New Delhi: People, who belong to the minority communities of Pakistan and have been staying in India on a Long Term Visa (LTV), will soon be allowed to buy property, open bank accounts and obtain PAN as well as Aadhaar cards as per the Modi government’s plans to roll out special facilities for them.    

The BJP-led government is all set to offer — reduction in fees for registration as citizens of India from Rs 15,000 to as low as Rs 100.

Other facilities include opening of bank accounts without prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) subject to certain conditions, consent for purchase of dwelling unit for self-occupation, and suitable accommodation for carrying out self-employment without prior approval of RBI subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.

Issue of driving licence, PAN and Aadhaar cards, and permission to take up self-employment or for doing business which is considered safe from security point of view, dispensing with the requirement of personal appearance before the Foreigners Registration Officer for registration are some other facilities being planned by the BJP government.

Also being considered  is the permit of free movement within the State/UT where they have been staying instead of restricting their movement within the place of stay. Allowing free movement to those living in the National Capital Region (NCR), simplifying the procedure for visit to a place in any other State/UT is also being proposed.

Permission for transfer of Long Term Visa (LTV) papers from one State/UT to another State/UT, waiver of penalty on non-extension of short term visa/LTV on time, permission to apply for LTV at the place of present residence in cases where the applicants have moved to the current place of residence without prior permission are some of the other highlights.  

Simplification of the procedure to grant Indian citizenship to such nationals belonging to minority communities in Pakistan has also been proposed.

Despite the fact that the exact number of minority refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India is unknown,  according to rough official estimates, there are around 2 lakh such people, mostly Hindus and Sikhs.

Powers will be given to the Collectors or the District Magistrates of a few select districts in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for a period of two years for registration of such Pakistani nationals as citizens of India.

Ever since the Modi government came to power in May 2014, several steps including issuance of Long Term Visa (LTV) for these refugees have been initiated.

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