Modi Government Grants Citizenship to Afghan and Pakistani Sikhs and Sindhis; Gujarati Sikhs Still Face Discrimination

2014-09-29_ModiNEW DELHI—Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Indian citizenship for 11,000 Sindhis and Sikhs who had migrated from Pakistan and Afghanistan prior to December 31, 2009.  These people had migrated to India in order to escape ongoing oppression due to the unrest in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.

A majority of these immigrants had been living in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however due to war and terrorism over the last decade or so, they were forced to leave their homes and travel through unsafe routes to reach India. In the past, along with targeted killings of Sikhs and Sindhi Hindus, terrorists have also targeted their business and places of worship.

In addition to granting citizenship to these immigrants, the government of India has also relaxed the procedures for the process of granting them Indian citizenship.  Notably, the term of residency required in India before citizenship can be required has been cut short to less than three years, as compared to 7 years.

Rajnath Singh approved the proposal for manual acceptance of applications for granting Indian citizenship to minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan, who entered India prior to December 31, 2009.

Before being elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has promised to grant citizenship to Afghan and Pakistani Sikhs and Hindus.  His move to fulfill his promise has been appreciated largely.  However, while the Indian Government is taking steps to provide a safe haven to migrants, a large number of Sikhs in Gujarat and other parts of the country who had left Punjab to settle there are still facing discrimination at a large scale.  These Sikhs have had their farming land confiscated as local State Governments are refusing to accept their residency.


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