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Bangla, Pak visitors delinked

New Delhi, Feb. 4: The Centre has agreed to amend visa rules so that applications of Bangladesh nationals are no longer clubbed with those of Pakistanis.

So far, Bangladeshi passport-holders came under clause 3.5 of the visa manual along with Pakistani and Afghan nationals. As the clause lists high-risk nations, detailed background checks were run on visa applicants from these countries.

Once the changes are introduced, Bangladeshis will find it easier to get Indian visas. Nearly five lakh Bangladeshi passport holders are granted visas every year.

The home ministry has also agreed to introduce special transit visas so that foreign nationals forced to make a stopover at Indian airports can make a quick dash to tourist sites.

The transit visa will be issued at airports in Delhi and Mumbai, following calls to tap the potential of tourist hubs around these two cities.

Sources said tourism minister K. Chiranjeevi met home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde last month to discuss the issue.

The idea is that tourists flying to South Asia or anywhere else can stop over at Delhi or Mumbai, where they will be given transit visas for 48 or 72 hours for a visit to Agra or Jaipur, or Goa or Mahabaleshwar.