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Pak Hindus can now buy property, have bank A/Cs

People belonging to minority communities of Pakistan, largely Hindus, staying in India on a Long Term Visa (LTV), will soon be allowed to buy property, open bank accounts and get PAN and Aadhaar cards. This was one of the main promises made by the BJP during the General Election 2014. The party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had said that Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu refugees would be treated like any other Indian citizen. 

The government on Sunday announced simplifying procedures for grant of Indian citizenship to minority Hindus from Pakistan. According to the proposal, the collectors or district magistrates of 18 districts will be empowered to grant citizenship for a 2-year period to such people. Among other concessions the government is all set to offer them reduction in fees for registration as citizens of India from Rs 15,000 to as low as Rs 100.

Though the exact number of minority refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan living in India is not known, according to rough official estimates there are around two lakh such people, mostly Hindus and Sikhs. There are around 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Kutch, Bhopal, Indore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Delhi and Lucknow.

Addressing the mobility issue of these minority Hindus, the government has also proposed to allow free movement within the State/ UT where they are staying instead of restricting their movement within the place of stay, allowing free movement to those living in the National Capital Region (NCR).
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