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Centre may incentivise Hindu Bangladeshis to settle outside NE
Spl Correspondent

A silent procession against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 at Mariani on Sunday. – UB Photos
 NEW DELHI, Jan 20 - In an apparent bid to ease tension in the Northeast over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Centre is drafting a proposal to incentivise the Hindu Bangladeshis to settle anywhere in the country, barring the states of the region.

A senior Home Ministry official told a select group of newsmen here that the MHA is considering a proposal to provide incentives to those people who want to settle anywhere in India, except the Northeast. The Home Ministry is also thinking of tightening the process further by restricting the number of Hindu Bangladeshis applying for citizenship.

“There cannot be too many Bangladeshis applying for the Indian nationality under the proposed new law. Otherwise, they would have already taken the long-term visas (LTVs) for which the criteria are the same,” the official said.

According to an estimate made by the Home Ministry, Bangladeshi Hindus likely to be benefited from the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is estimated to be less than 200 people. “These are among those who have so far availed the LTV regime introduced in 2015,” the official said.

As reported earlier, the figure of Hindu Bangladeshis who entered the Northeast illegally though is much higher. Under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill they would have to appear before district magistrates to establish their Bangladeshi nationality and prove that they had left their country because of religious persecution there.

The official claimed that majority of those who are likely to apply for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be from Pakistan, as nearly 35,000 of such people so far have got LTVs.

“The number of LTVs issued by the Union Home Ministry to Bangladeshi nationals from 2011 to January 8, 2019, is just 187, while the number of LTVs issued to Pakistani nationals during the same period is 34,817,” the official said.

Of the 187 LTVs granted to Bangladeshi nationals, only two were given in 2018, three in 2017, 50 in 2016, 26 in 2015, 74 in 2014, 27 in 2012 and four in 2011. No LTV was issued to any Bangladeshi national in the year 2013.

Of the total Pakistani nationals who were given LTVs between January 1, 2015 to January 14, 2019, as many as 15,107 are living in Rajasthan, 1,560 in Gujarat, 1,444 in Madhya Pradesh, 599 in Maharashtra, 581 in Delhi, 342 in Chhattisgarh and 101 in Uttar Pradesh.

According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Indian nationality will be given to persecuted persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have been living in the country for six years instead of current 11 years. This is applicable to those who have come to India till December 31, 2014.

The eligibility criteria for LTVs to these groups coming to India on short term visa include copy of passport, copy of visa and residential permit, photograph and indemnity bond from the Indian guarantor besides others.

These rules will also apply to those who are going to seek Indian citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. “They must fulfil similar criteria of LTVs,” the official clarified.

Meanwhile, the ruling NDA government has begun preliminary round of negotiations with ‘like-minded’ parties to garner support in favour of the Bill. A senior BJP MP confirmed that the government is going to bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill for passage in Rajya Sabha, most likely in the first week of February itself.

In Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had already clarified that the Bill would apply to all states and Union Territories and the beneficiaries can reside anywhere in the country.

“The burden of these persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country. Assam alone would not have to bear the entire burden and the Government of India is committed to give all help to the State government and people of Assam,” Singh had said.

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