Bhopal: On World Refugee Day a group of Hindu refugees from Pakistan living in Indore and Bhopal has demanded that the Narendra Modi-led Union Government speed up the process of granting citizenship to them.
During a programme organised on the eve of World Refugee Day on Sunday in Bhopal, dozens of refugees, who have been living on a Long Term Visa (LTV) in both the cities, raised their issues with BJP leaders and urged to quickly dispatch citizenship applications submitted to the Government of India.
A large number of Pakistani refugees, mostly Sindhi Hindus, live on the outskirts of Bhopal's Bairagarh locality. According to official sources, between 300 and 400 refugees have been living in Bhopal and over 2,000 live in Indore.
In a bid to provide citizenship to them, an special citizenship camp had been set up in Bhopal on February 12, 2016, by the then Minister of External Affairs (MEA) late Sushma Swaraj. Officials from the MEA, Bhopal's district collector and the Foreign Registration Regional Office (FRRO) had received 158 applications. Of them, 120 have been granted citizenship after document verification, said Durgesh Keshwani, a Pakistani migrant and BJP's spokesperson in Madhya Pradesh.
"Pakistani Hindus facing atrocities or religious prosecution in their homeland take refuge in India in search of a better life, but they have been running from pillar to post to get citizenship for years now. Since the BJP has come to power in the Centre, the citizenship rules have been simplified and collectors have been assigned the power to grant citizenship," said Keshwani.
"In the last five years, 120 applications of refugees living in Bhopal have been approved while 38 applications are pending. Nearly 3,000 applications are pending in Indore," he added.
During the event, Nanalal Panjwani, one of the migrants, said that they had been facing a lot of challenges to get Indian citizenship. "I urge the government to grant citizenship to refugees so they can live and work peacefully," he said.
Despite several attempts, Bhopal Collector Avinash Lavaniya wasn't available for comment.