At a time when Assam is being rocked with protest against controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Centre’s decision to extend religiously prosecuted Bangla, Pak national’s staying terms in India and relaxes Long Term Visas (LTV) procedures for prosecuted minorities would likely to trigger further protests in Assam.
Assam is divided over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill because it proscribes the deportation or imprisonment of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who entered India without valid documents before December 31, 2014.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that it will ease the process of obtaining LTV for minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The plan, which reduces the time limit for security clearance from 45 days to 21 days, will be valid for the ‘persecuted minorities’ of the mentioned countries.
A LTV permits a non-Indian to stay in the country for a period of more than six consecutive months.
These provisions dilute the 1985 Assam Accord, which stipulates that those who entered Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971, be identified and deported.
The decision comes days after an official was arrested by the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau for coercing Pakistani Hindu migrants to pay money in exchange for visa extension, visa transfer and citizenship.
Since the National Democratic Alliance came to power in 2014, the process of obtaining LTVs by the persecuted minorities has been liberalized for the most part.
The issuance of visas to Hindu minorities surged and the government granted concessions to Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Afghanistan nationals belonging to the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Jain communities in terms of visa and citizenship applications.
(Featured Image – BDnews24)