Centre keeps word, minority refugees can now seek driving licence, Aadhaar

NEW DELHI: Delivering on its 2014 poll promise, the NDA government has taken a decision to issue driving licences and Aadhar Cards to Hindus and other minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who escaped persecution and took refuge in India.

Express had earlier reported on April 7 that the government was planning to move the proposal. With the approval of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — can purchase property and also get a PAN card.

Since assuming power, the NDA government initiated a slew of measures including the amendment of rules to extend citizenship and facilitate Long Term Visa (LTV). The Cabinet also approved the waiver of penalty for minorities who failed to extend their visa after expiry. A Home Ministry spokesperson said the provision would be extended to all those staying on LTV. Minorities from the three neighbouring countries can open a bank account, take up self employment and move freely within the States and Union Territories. The government has also decided to simplify the procedure for visit to a place in any other state. Moreover, the new facilities will allow the transfer of LTV papers from one State to another and the government has proposed to waive off penalty on non-extension of short term visa or LTV.

In order to facilitate minorities in acquisition of citizenship by amending Citizenship Rules 2009, the Collector or District Magistrate will be empowered to authorise an officer not below the rank of Sub Divisional Magistrate for administering the oath of allegiance to the applicant. The powers would be delegated to the collectors of 16 districts in seven States for two years for registration as refugees as citizens of India.

The seven States include Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The registration fee has also been reduced to Rs 100 from the existing Rs 3,000-Rs 15,000 range.