The Indian government is set to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled sectarian persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The move will not only benefit Hindus, but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains, and may have broad implications on many parts of India, especially Assam and the border states of north-west India.
The Bill is being amended to make provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport Act, 1920, and the Passport Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry is reportedly studying the amendments, and high-level meetings have taken place between the Law Minister, the Law Secretary and Home Secretary to look into the issue.
At present, the immigrants await long-term visa for five years, and are required to complete a stay of seven years before being eligible for citizenship.
The new changes in the legislation will exempt people fleeing religious persecution from being termed as illegal migrants, even as they will also be offered long-term visas while their cases for citizenship are pending, according to media reports.