In two decisions to address the BJP’s core constituency, home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday set up a task force to expedite citizenship to Hindu refugees from Pakistan and set the ball rolling for identifying land to rehabilitate migrant Kashmiri Pandits.
Singh constituted the task force to expedite processing of citizenship and long term visa for minorities from neighbouring countries within the next two weeks. The BJP had backed demands for citizenship for Hindu minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh before the general elections as well. In his election rallies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had promised to treat Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu refugees like other citizens. “Delay in processing applications cause hardships and difficulties to applicants, especially to minorities from neighbouring countries who are often of poor economic standing,” a home ministry statement said.
The home minister also wrote to the Jammu & Kashmir government asking the state to identify and earmark land for migrant Kashmiri Pandits who had been forced to leave the state due to attacks on the community by militants. Ensuring the return of the 62,000 Kashmiri Pandit families has been an ideological issue for the BJP and a key focus area for the home ministry.
In his letter to chief minister Omar Abdullah, Singh suggested that the state should try to earmark locations near the native place from where they migrated.