JODHPUR: Chetan Das Meghwal, who worked as a teacher in Pakistan, got Indian citizenship after a 19-year-long wait. The citizenship, however, came too late. Unable to get a job after completing graduation from a college in Hisar, Devi, his daughter, committed suicide in Jodhpur.
“I am happy to be an Indian citizen but it’s incomplete without my daughter. Devi was an engineer but she could not get a job because of her Pakistani passport,” said Chetan wiping tears.
Thousands of Hindu migrants from Pakistan are waiting for citizenship. The lucky ones who have got the prized document in the border districts of Rajasthan are gearing up to vote for the first time. Politicians campaigning in Rajasthan have been trying to get their support.
PM Narendra Modi had recently spoken about giving Hindu migrants citizenship during his rallies in western Rajasthan. Criticising the PM, the Congress blamed the BJP for using this tactic to garner votes.
Dr Rakumar Bheel received his citizenship papers in August last year. Hailing from Pakistan’s Sindh province, he waited for 16 years for it.
“This is bigger than Diwali for me because Diwali comes every year but this happiness has come to me after 16 years of wait,” he said.
Poorn Das Meghwal, who crossed the border with nine members of his family 22 years ago, said he understands the pain of not being able to vote.
“Even after living for so many years (in India) we cannot vote and can’t avail any government facilities.”
His children, who were born in India, are called “Pakistanis”.
According to the Seemant Lok Sangathan, which raises the voice of Hindu migrants from Pakistan, there are some 35,000 people in Rajasthan who are in the queue for citizenship.
Hindu Singh Sodha, president of the organisation, said, “Two years ago, the government gave rights to the district authorities to process citizenship papers, but the progress was painfully slow. Only a thousand got citizenship cards.”
A big chunk of Hindu migrants live in Barmer and Jodhpur. In western Rajasthan, migrant Hindus and their relatives have a strong presence in these seats. “Migrants will vote for parties which take care of them,” said Dr Rajkumar Bheel.