In a reprieve to 480 Pakistani Hindus, the Home Ministry has extended visas for a month, before the government takes a decision on their demand for political asylum in India.
These people came here to participate in the Kumbh Mela that concluded in Allahabad last month. But they refused to leave India, alleging that atrocities were being committed against them in Pakistan. They even petitioned the President and the United Nations.
The matter came to light when the Pakistani Hindus approached the Delhi government and pleaded for political asylum as their visas expired on April 8. The Delhi government sought the Home Ministry’s direction.
“We will consider their pleas sympathetically… As all these matters take time, we have extended their visas for a month,” a senior official of the Ministry said on Wednesday.
Significantly, the government is yet to take a decision on granting political asylum or Indian citizenship to several Pakistani Hindus who had come to the country in the last few months. But it has not deported them and has been extending their visas regularly.
In December last, the Home Ministry told Parliament that between 2009 and 2011, 1,290 applications of Pakistani nationals had been received from various State governments for grant of Indian citizenship by registration and naturalisation. Of these, 764 were granted Indian citizenship.