Jodhpur: The migrants from Pakistan, struggling to be called Indians, are happy over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill by the Lok Sabha.
There are around 25,000 non-Indian citizens in Rajasthan who migrated from Pakistan after facing severe persecution on the grounds of their religion, says Hindu Singh Sodha, president of Seemant Lok Sangthan, an organisation working for citizenship for Hindu migrants from Pakistan.
Around 18,000 non-citizens are registered with Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) and around 3,000 are unregistered with FRO in Jodhpur itself. At least 95% of these non-migrants are in Jodhpur while the rest are scattered across Rajasthan, Sodha said.
These non-citizens now say they will start a new chapter of their life after the CAB becomes a law.
“We were fed up with religious atrocities in Pakistan. I came to Jodhpur with my family on January 26, 2005 from Sindh (Pakistan). The atrocities had multiplied after the Babri mosque demolition. Hindus were tortured and eventually we had to pack our bags and come to India,” says Premchand from Jodhpur.
“I have been driving a scrap cart since then to raise my four kids aged 16, 14, 12 and 10. The passage of the Bill is like beginning of a new life for us. We are proud to be associated with Hindustan, now all our dreams will be fulfilled”, said Premchand, adding “it’s been an arduous journey of 12 years for citizenship”.
Sadura Ram also came to Jodhpur from Sindh (Pakistan) on June 11, 2006. He too was trying hard to avail of his citizenship and was fed up with filling forms, applying for citizenship and then making rounds of the FRO.
“Sometimes the officials told me that my file was missing. And sometimes they said the details were not complete. Earning my livelihood was important, so I slowed down on my citizenship part, although I was very tense for staying like a migrant in my own country,” he said.
“I started doing a stitching job; we are six in a family including three kids, a brother and wife. The children are in class 8, 9 and 10th. We knew we had no future in Pakistan — the schools were biased. Now, we have all rights to think for our future, as any other Indian citizen”, he added.
The Bill passed by the Lok Sabha seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan while escaping religious persecution in those countries.
It proposes to make Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis people eligible for citizenship who entered India till December 31, 2014.
Meanwhile, Sodha said that they would like to thank the government for accepting their demand.
“This (the Bill) permits the third generation minority immigrants from Pakistan to acquire citizenship under Section 6 (naturalization) after five years of stay in India which was earlier 11 years,” he said.
An immigrant can currently apply for citizenship after staying in India for 11 years. Since the cut-off date for CAB is December 31, 2014, religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh immigrating to India will have to wait for five years for citizenship.
Sodha said most of these non-citizens came to India on pilgrim visa or visitor visa. “Now they want to celebrate the moment. I have asked them to wait for the Bill to be passed by Rajya Sabha too. I am aware of the challenges that are going to come in CAB’s implementation, but for the moment, let’s celebrate,” he said.