The Union Cabinet has approved proposals for extending several benefits to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India on long-term visas.
The asylum seekers can now take up self-employment, buy property, open bank accounts and get driving licences, PAN card and Aadhaar in India.
According to a report published in The Hindu, many members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have gone to India fearing persecution in their home countries.
“They have been persecuted and therefore, they came and have taken shelter here … the move is aimed at easing the difficulties being faced by them,” said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press conference.
The Indian government has waived the penalty on late application for extension of their short- or long-term visas. Besides, India's Citizenship Rules, 2009, will be amended to help such persons get citizenship.
As approved by the Union Cabinet, the beneficiaries can buy property for self-occupation or use in self-employment. Moreover, they are allowed free movement within the State of their stay, and can get their long-term visa papers transferred from one State to another.
“The Collector or District Magistrate would be empowered to authorise an officer not below the rank of Sub-divisional Magistrate for administering the oath of allegiance to the applicant,” the Cabinet note says on granting citizenship.
The powers will be delegated to the Collectors of 16 districts in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for two years for registration as citizens of India.