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Bugti asylum fate in PM hands

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take the final call on exiled Baloch leader Brahumdagh Bugti's application for political asylum in India, Union home ministry sources said.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 23.09.16
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New Delhi, Sept. 22: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take the final call on exiled Baloch leader Brahumdagh Bugti's application for political asylum in India, Union home ministry sources said.

The foreign ministry today forwarded Bugti's application seeking "an Indian card and travel papers" to the home ministry, a senior official said. "We are examining it but the final decision lies with the Prime Minister."

The Dalai Lama was the last person to be granted political asylum in India - in 1959 when Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister.

"We have asked our undersecretaries to dig out the 1959 files: we need to understand the complex procedure of granting asylums," an official said. He said India lacked a comprehensive asylum policy and took decisions case by case. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had proposed an asylum policy in the form of a private member's bill last year but it is yet to be taken up.

Some officials said New Delhi would have to tread cautiously because granting asylum to Bugti could have serious geopolitical implications, allowing Pakistan to accuse India of sponsoring a secessionist movement in Balochistan.

One possibility is that Bugti would only be granted a long-term visa or a temporary residential permit that must be renewed every year, as with exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, officials said.

Bugti, 33, the leader of the Baloch Republican Party, is in exile in Geneva but was refused asylum by Swiss authorities in January this year.

In September last year, the home ministry had issued orders allowing migrant Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to live in India indefinitely without worrying about passports or visas. During the last Parliament session in July-August, the Centre introduced a bill incorporating this provision.