The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is ready with a draft amendment for the Citizenship Act, 1955 which will enable thousands of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu and Sikh refugees staying in India claim Indian citizenship.
Granting citizenship to Hindu and Sikh refugees fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh has been a prime agenda of the Modi Government.
As of now, all migrants are tagged as “illegal immigrants”. The numbers of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh have only decreased over the years with thousands fleeing into India to escape unmentionable atrocities on them committed by a handful of yet very powerful fundamentalists.
The Indian government’s move will reportedly help approximately 2 lakh persecuted refugees in India. Estimates suggest that between 2000 and 5000 refugees arrive in India each year.
But the government has made it clear that only those escaping religious and political persecution will be benefit from the amendment.
Those seeking economic migration will not benefit from the amendment. How the government will determine the kind of refugee is based on the internationally accepted definition of a refugee and the norms.
A migrant camp for Hindu immigrants from Pakistan in Delhi. BBC
Many Hindu refugees from Pakistan live in Delhi. They say
that they were always treated like “second-class citizens” and their girls “sexually harassed” by some fundamentalist Pakistanis. Reports
indicate that the amendment does not cover Muslim refugees from Pakistan and, especially, Bangladesh. The “illegal immigrant” in India is usually used to describe Bangladeshi Muslims.