India to ease visa rules for Bangladeshis: Govt
Building on improved relations with Bangladesh, India on Wednesday said it proposes to ease visa rules for visitors from the neighbouring country.
"There is a proposal to relax the procedure relating to grant of conference visa to Bangladeshi citizens. The matter is under consideration," Home Minister P Chidambaram said in the Rajya Sabha.
Answering questions, he said the categories of visitors for whom visas may be relaxed include professionals regularly visiting India and requiring longer stay than one year in rare and exceptional cases.
Visa on medical grounds including for those accompanying attendants and relatives, may also be eased, Chidambaram said.
As for Indians visiting Bangladesh, he said the visa regime is reciprocal.
To a question from Sushila Tiriya (Congress) whether India was working on a plan to declare a unilateral no-fire zone along the Bangladesh border, the Home Minister said, "No".
While relations with Bangladesh have improved over the last few years, "I agree there are several undemarcated areas on both the sides." He said discussions are on. "There is progress and we would be able to resolve the matter," he said.
Some Indian areas are in their jurisdiction and some Bangladesh land is with India, he said.
The Home Minister agreed that the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh "is a grave problem. But we are addressing it." He said policies of several successive governments had been the same over the years on the matter.
He said as per provisions under the Foreigners Act and Tribunal order, over one lakh illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have been deported and pushed back between 2000 and 2008.
Regarding those who had illegally migrated before 1971 to India, the Home Minister said the provisions to deal with the issue are addressed in the provisions of Assam Accord.