55 Pakistani Sindhis Receive Indian Citizenship
Applications for citizenship of 91 more Sindhi Pakistanis are pending with the Indian government.
Fifty five Pakistani Sindhi migrants were granted Indian citizenship by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a function in Lucknow on Jan. 21. Some of them, like Vidya Bai, 48, had come to India in 1990 from Sukhur, Pakistan, and finally became a citizen of the country where she has been residing for 28 years.
As many as 146 Sindhis who migrated to India in the years after Partition had applied for citizenship. While 55 of them were granted citizenship on Jan. 21, the rest will also receive it soon, District Magistrate Kaushalraj Sharma told the Hindustan Times. Hundreds of Sindhis attended the event at an ashram in Lucknow.
They can now have access to the Indian passport, Aadhaar and other schemes and benefits meant for Indian citizens. With the Indian passport, they can now travel to 55 countries visa-free.
Speaking on the occasion, Singh said, “A delegation of Sindhis met me when I became home minister and apprised me of the citizenship issue. I promised them all support. I am happy that I have been able to deliver and grant Indian citizenship to oppressed people from Pakistan.”
He added that while India and Pakistan had agreed during Partition to take care of the minority communities in their respective countries, Pakistan has not done so.
“The suppression of minorities continued in Pakistan and as a result, a number of Pakistanis applied for Indian citizenship. But they were not granted this for years due to small technical issues. I called the attorney general and he helped in drafting the new citizenship and visa policy. But the bill is with the standing committee as it was not passed in Rajya Sabha. Soon we will have majority in Rajya Sabha and then the bill will be passed,” Singh said.
According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha, illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion can be granted citizenship. Singh referred to the bill during the event and said that citizenship can be issued by the district magistrate.
Oppressed Pakistani citizens can apply for long-term visa, and they can open bank accounts and commercial establishments, while their children can get education in India while they apply for citizenship, Singh added.