R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Feb 3 - Though the Government of India has decided to issue long term visa to persons belonging to the minority communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, no one has so far applied for it in Assam after coming from Bangladesh. Moreover, even before the new long term visa regime came into effect in 2015, no Bangladeshi national came to Assam and sought shelter officially claiming that he or she was forced to migrate to India because of religious persecution.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that to claim shelter or citizenship or even to seek long term visa, a person has to declare himself to be a foreign national and provide adequate proof in this regard. But in case of immigrants from Bangladesh, most of them entered illegally without any travel document and they mingled with the local people. Majority of them must have also applied for inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Now it remains to be seen how such persons can prove the fact that they were in fact, foreign nationals and migrated to India because of religious persecution in their own country.
Sources said that more than 30,000 foreigners had either applied for long term visa or citizenship in India claiming that they had to face religious persecution in their own country, but majority of them were from Pakistan and Afghanistan and most such people came with proper travel documents. In case of the migrants from Bangladesh, the situation is different as most came illegally and it would now be difficult for them to apply for either Indian citizenship or long term visa as for that, the first step would be to admit that they are Bangladeshi nationals. If the persons, who had applied for inclusion of names in the NRC and now claim that they were Bangladeshi nationals, they are also liable to be prosecuted for providing wrong information.
The foreign nationals can also apply for long term visa online with documents including copies of passport, copy of visa and residential permit, indemnity bond from an Indian citizen, etc. They will also submit an affidavit in the prescribed format and in case of minors, a written consent of the parents will be required.
As per the scheme to grant long term visa, the persons belonging to the minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, that is, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians are permitted to take up self-employment or to do business like selling of grocery items, household goods, fruits and vegetables or any other business activity except in protected, restricted and cantonment areas. However, they will not be permitted to undertake self employment and business in any contractual labour work related to defence establishment, scientific establishment, sensitive organization, Railways, Ministries, etc. Further, they will not be allowed to engage in businesses related to telecommunication including mobile handsets, SIM cards, Laptop, etc. and security system business relating to computers, information technology, cyber space, scrap business with defence units, etc. They will not be allowed to take up any other business activity also considered sensitive from security point of view. They are also allowed to open bank accounts and to buy small dwelling properties. They are also allowed to get PAN and AADHAR cards and for that the addresses given in the long term visa will be accepted as proof of address.