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4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan granted Indian citizenship

NEW DELHI: The Indian government has given citizenship to more than 4,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan in one year, reported the Indian media.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government granted citizenship to 4,300 Hindus and Sikhs, while during the entire tenure of UPA-II, the figure reached at 1,023.

According to the report, the citizenship to these refugees have been given at the initiative of Home Minister Rajnath Singh following BJP’s declared policy that India is a “natural home for persecuted Hindus” who will be welcome to seek refuge.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, during the Lok Sabha election campaign, said that Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu refugees will be treated like any other Indian citizen.

“There are around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan currently living in India,” says the report.

The Indian media cites a government official saying the decision has been taken to address the difficulty being faced by Hindu and Sikh minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who come to India with the intention to settle permanently.

There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and northeastern states.

Sikh refugees mostly live in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh.

Ever since the Modi government assumed charge in May 2014, nearly 19,000 refugees have been given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh.

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