New Delhi: As a first step to grant Indian citizenship to nearly one lakh Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Home Ministry today approved setting up of a task force to monitor and expedite processing of their citizenship and Long Term Visa (LTV) applications.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed matters relating to grant of citizenship that takes a long time for completion of the entire process and decided to set up the task force.
"In this regard, the Ministry of Home Affairs has received representations from time to time. The Home Minister approved the setting up of a task force to monitor and expedite processing of Citizenship and Long Term Visa (LTV) applications, which will start functioning in two weeks time," a Home Ministry statement said.
Delay in processing applications cause hardships and difficulties to applicants, especially to minorities from neighbouring countries who are often of poor economic standing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, during the Lok Sabha election campaign, said in separate rallies in West Bengal and Rajasthan that Pakistani and Bangaladeshi Hindu refugees will be treated like other Indian citizens.
There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur while most of the Hindu refugees from Bangaldesh live in West Bengal and some in Northeastern states. There are around one lakh Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh in India, according to official sources.
The Home Ministry task force will be headed by the Joint Secretary (Foreigners) and it will expedite cases having complete documents so that all processing is finished within two months.
Besides, the task force will follow up with the state governments concerned where representations are received about specific pending cases in state governments. Home Ministry officials may also be sent to coordinate with State Home Departments and Foreigners Registration officials.
Since the initial applications are filed online, the task force would monitor the applications and keep a track of the progress in processing them.
"For many applicants, the grant of long-term visa would have to be processed/considered first. The Task Force will coordinate long-term visa-related matters also," the statement said.