The Indian government is ready with draft amendments to citizenship law that will exempt minority citizens of Bangladesh and Pakistan who have come to India out of fear of religious prosecution from being tagged as “illegal migrants”. Here is all about the existing law and the draft amendment:
Who is a refugee?
A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who has fled his/her country of citizenship fearing persecution due to one’s race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
Status of refugees
India is neither party to the 1951 Convention on Refugees nor the 1967 Protocol. The lack of specific refugee legislation in India has led the government to adopt an ad-hoc approach to different refugee populations.
The ad-hoc nature of the government’s approach has led to varying treatment of different refugee groups.
The changes to the Citizenship Act, 1955, will give a legal path to the refugees to remain in India and even claim citizenship, a move in tune with the Modi government’s unambiguous desire to be seen as a protector of Hindus facing adverse circumstances in these countries.
As per the proposed amendments to Citizenship Act, December 31, 2014 will be designated as the cut-off date for refugees to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Also, Section 2 (1)(b) of the Act will have a provison that will exempt such citizens from being deemed “illegal migrants”. The government is also looking at simultaneous amendments to the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and Foreigners Act, 1946.
BJP promised citizenship to Hindu refugees in its manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Ever since it assumed office, the Modi regime has taken a series of measures to facilitate grant of long-term visas to such refugees until they can be granted citizenship. The government recently moved a proposal to further facilitate the stay of long-term visa holders by offering Aadhaar cards, driving licence and PAN cards.
Source: The Times Of India