The Union Cabinet approved proposals for extending several benefits to “persecuted” minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India on long-term visas.
They can now take up self-employment, buy property, open bank accounts and get driving licences, PAN card and Aadhaar.
Many members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have come to India fearing persecution in their home countries.
The registration fees for citizenship will be reduced to Rs. 100 from Rs. 3,000- 15,000. Soon, the Citizenship Rules, 2009, will be amended to help such persons get citizenship.
As approved by the Union Cabinet, the beneficiaries can buy property for self- occupation or use in self-employment. They are allowed free movement within the State of their stay, and can get their long-term visa papers transferred from one State to another.
The government has permitted them to apply for long-term visas from the place of their current residence, even if they have moved to the present place without seeking permission.
The Collector or District Magistrate would be empowered to authorise an officer not below the rank of Sub-divisional Magistrate for administering the oath of allegiance to the applicant.
The Centre has taken several measures in the past two years to alleviate the problems of the persecuted minorities from the neighbouring countries who have been living year for long.