New Delhi, November 8, 2020: Teenager Mahir is in a happy mood with new clothes, shoes, and a wristwatch. He feels the joy of the Diwali festival week before it has even arrived.
His father Jitesh Kumar has fulfilled his promise of gifts; Indian citizenship.
He has got an Indian citizenship certificate from the office of the District Collector Ahmedabad. Though he was born in Ahmedabad, he was still a Pakistani national due to his parents.
Jitesh had applied for Indian citizenship under sec.5(1)(d) of Citizenship Act, 1955 after his father and mother become Indian citizens. Mahir is not alone in getting Indian citizenship at present.
More than 160 Hindu migrants from Pakistan have been issued Indian citizenship certificates in October 2020. Apart from this, 200 Acceptance letters have been issued to Hindu migrants so that they can be free from their Pakistani passports and nationality.
DC branch of the Collector office had been processing the applications in difficult Covid-19 times.
Keeping in mind, Covid-19 related protocols, Hindu migrants were handed certificates recently in a systematic and decentralized manner with only 10 applicants granted certificates per day. More than 1000 Indian citizenship certificates have been issued to Hindu migrants in the last 3 years at Ahmedabad.
In our opinion, the Ahmedabad District Collector office is number 1 in processing and issuing of Indian citizenship certificates among all districts of India and is making use of the power delegated by MHA on 23 December 2016.
I have found that the officials at the Collector office are sympathetic and supportive to persecuted Hindu migrants and they guide and help in proper documentation and online application submission. Needy, poor, and illiterate applicants get special attention for making their citizenship papers and they are educated to follow up their applications at different offices.
In April 2017, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship under the chairmanship of Dr. Satya Pal Singh visited Ahmedabad. They held meetings with Hindu migrants in their localities Isanpur and Sardarnagar and attained first-hand information on their condition.
A Joint meeting of officials of MHA, MEA, Law Ministry, Gujarat Home department, FRO Ahmedabad, District Collectorate, and representatives of Hindu migrants was held at circuit House Ahmedabad on 18th April 2017 and discussed the issues. Joint Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (JCCAB) has presented the report in the winter session of Parliament. On the basis of this JCCAB report, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed.
Before Covid-19, a delegation of Pak Hindu migrants held meetings with Amitbhai Shah Union Home Minister of India regarding Indian citizenship to Hindu migrants. Shah told the delegation about the instructions of MHA to issue citizenship certificates to Hindu migrants every Thursday. He assured many more facilities like multi-entry visas for divided family members, urgent medical visas, and mechanisms to bring all persecuted Hindu migrants in the mainstream by giving facilities of education, health, housing, livelihood, etc.
I, Sindh Minority Migrants Association Secretary, Rajesh Maheshwari, thanks Honourable Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi and Union Home Minister Amitbhai Shah for their facilitation to rehabilitate persecuted Hindu migrants in India. MHA has issued notification for the reduction of citizenship fees from Rs. 5000-16000 to Rs. 100/- only. With power delegation, the processing time of citizenship application has been reduced from 2-3 years to 6 months only.
But there is also a problem; recently Ahmedabad DC office has issued Acceptance Letters (120 applicants) for the surrender of Pakistani passports and nationalities at Pakistan High Commission New Delhi. But PHC is not accepting passports for renunciation for the last 10 months. This delays the process of getting Indian citizenship in the end. We at the Sindh Minority Migrants Association request Government of India to find solutions for this matter at the earliest so that more than 500 applicants from all over India can get Indian citizenship.
I would also like to request that the District Collector office along with other related offices like FRO, concerned agencies, Gujarat Home department take priority in processing the applications at their offices and uploading the reports online in a time-bound manner. This saves a lot of time and delay is being avoided in the whole citizenship process. Mostly, the whole process from the date of submitting citizenship application to attaining an Indian citizenship certificate at Ahmedabad District Collector office is fast and transparent and this can be a model for other districts of India.
Hindu migrants are grateful to all concerned offices, departments, and officials for their help in the whole citizenship process.
Apart from this, the Gujarat government has distributed food grains in the Covid-19 period lockdown through public distribution system to poor Pak Hindu migrants residents of Gujarat. SMMA is grateful to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani and Gujarat Minister of State of Home Pradepsinh Jadeja for their concern and welfare of persecuted Hindu migrants in Gujarat.
By Rajesh Maheshwari
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