AHMEDABAD: As many as 90 Hindus from Pakistan, who had migrated to the city years ago, were awarded Indian citizenship by the district authorities at a function held here on Friday. District Collector Vikrant Pandey handed over the certificates of Indian citizenship, issued in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955, to the 90 applicants. “In 2016, the Centre had decentralised the process of issuing citizenship to the minority communities, such as the Hindus and the Sikhs, of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” Pandey told reporters.
Through a gazette notification issued in December 2016, the district collectors of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Kutch in Gujarat were given powers to confer Indian citizenship to the applicants from these communities living in Gujarat, he added. “With today’s tally of 90, Ahmedabad becomes a leader among all the districts in the country in awarding such citizenship since the new arrangement came into effect,” Pandey said.
“Since 2016, the Ahmedabad district collectorate has awarded citizenship to 320 people. No other district in the country has awarded these many certificates of citizenship. Ninety per cent of the 320 applicants were from Pakistan, while the rest were from Bangladesh,” he added. The collector said since these people were now Indian citizens, they could apply for Aadhaar, passport and various other benefits. “The names of these citizens will also be included in the electoral rolls,” he added. Those who were awarded citizenship today thanked the administration and expressed joy for finally being able to call themselves “Indian”.
Some of them shared their experiences in Pakistan, which forced them to leave behind their businesses and loved ones and come to India on long-term visa. Bharatkumar Khatwani (35), who used to live in Karachi, said Hindus were an easy target in Muslim-majority Pakistan. “I have been living here since 2009. I used to own a super-store in Karachi, but I had to migrate here due to the law-and-order situation there. Hindus are an easy target there. It is more rampant in small towns. Hindus have to hide their identity in order to save themselves in Pakistan,” he said.