India's Home Ministry is preparing an amendment to the country's citizenship laws, which would allow Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh to apply for Indian citizenship if they face religious persecution in their countries. At the moment, refugees from these countries are "illegal migrants" in India.
The move has been seen as a political one, rather than a humanitarian one, with people suggesting that it reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi's desire to protect Hindus. According to the Economic Times, there are currently 200,000 Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh and many complain of being treated as 'second-class citizens'. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised citizenship to Hindu refugees in its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Since the Hindu party came to power in 2014, PM Modi has adopted a number of measures for Hindu refugees coming into the country, including long-term visas until they are granted citizenship. In April, refugees from minority religions in Pakistan were given permission to buy property, open bank accounts, and get PAN cards.
At the time, a spokesperson for the Home Ministry said: "The central government has been constantly reviewing the hardships faced by the minority communities in Pakistan staying in India on LTV (Long-Term Visas). To ease some of their difficulties, it is proposed to provide the facilities."
The BJP government also granted Hindu refugees the right to free movement within states in India, instead of being restricted to the place where they are staying. Although the discussion about citizenship for Hindu refugees has been ongoing for some time, draft amendment to the citizenship law has now been prepared and is expected to be put forward for approval shortly.
In 2015, the Indian government decided to allow minority refugees from Pakistan and Bangaldesh to stay in India even if their visas had expired. It was also announced that registration fees for citizenship would be reduced for refugees from these countries.