R'than govt to grant long term visas to Pakistani Hindus migrants

About 200 Pakistani Hindus who migrated to India seeking citizenship had some reason to rejoice this Diwali.

The state government has begun the process of issuing long term visas to 212 migrants who are now living in camps in Jodhpur.

At present, 397 Hindu pilgrims from Pakistan are staying at camps in Jhanwar. The state government has decided to issue long term visa (LTV) to 212 of them.

According to official sources, the state government can issue LTV for six months only, and then the Union government steps in and can extend it up to two years.

This is being considered as a positive development for visa-seekers. Earlier, LTVs were issued only to Pakistanis who came on tourist visas.  Now, all these Pakistanis who have come on pilgrim visas could seek Indian citizenship.

This is for the first time that pilgrim visa holders are being give LTVs. It is being considered as a compassionate gesture by the state and Union governments.

Refugee status

Seemant Lok Sangathan president Hindu Singh Soda, who has been championing the cause of Pakistani Hindus wishing to settle in India, said: “Our demand is for according refugee status to these displaced people as they were subjected to religious persecution in Pakistan. Issuing long term visa is only temporary relief.”

The state government has also decided to enrol the children of these pilgrims in state-run schools.

Along with the NGOs, the state government is providing them help. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot had asked officials to take up the matter with the Union government after the leaders of the Hindu migrants met him.

 Delegation

A delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders also met the migrants and asked party leaders to take up their cause with the Centre.

BJP leader Onkar Lekhawat said, “Either the Union government should exert diplomatic pressure on the neighbouring country to create conducive conditions for their return or give them shelter.”

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