NEW DELHI: A Hindu refugee from Pakistan, forty-year-old Meera Devi, on Tuesday joined the chorus demanding to expedite the process for conferment of Indian citizenship to religious minorities from Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Devi, also the grandmother of Nagrikta, the infant who was born a day before the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in the Rajya Sabha, said they had migrated to their ‘motherland’ (India) with hopes to lead a life of dignity.
Meera now lives in Majnu Ka Tila along the Yamuna bank. “Some call us intruders and others say we are creating false stories to get a comfortable life. We fled Pakistan to escape persecution. We have been here for seven years but don’t have basic facilities and a shelter.
When the law has been passed by PM Modji and Amit Shahji, we should have access to basic needs — home, education, and health services,” she said.
Narrating his ordeal, Sukhand Pradhan (39), who had come with a group of 483 refugees from Hyderabad (Pakistan) in 2013, said that they had already suffered a lot and appealed to ‘parties’ (protesting against the CAA) to support them.
“When we stayed at Yamuna bank, we were given tents and power generators were installed at our camps by the government though we didn’t have drinking water supply. Over the years, the tents have tattered and power generators have been withdrawn. We are only seeking basic facilities — water and electricity. So, ‘other’ parties shouldn’t oppose us,” he said.
Both were interacting with journalists at a convention – ‘Dialogue with Victims of Atrocities of Pakistan’ organised at Constitution Club. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Rajya Sabha MP and vice president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shankar Lalwani, Lok Sabha MP from Indore, and Virendra Sachdeva, cofounder of Gyan Foundation, an independent organisation, run by associates of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated think-tank were also part of the convention.
According to Pradhan, the group had come to India on pilgrim visa during Kumbh 2013. They had travel permit for 35 days but stayed back in Delhi after the congregation. Several of his fellow travellers presently reside in Bijawasan, Rohini, Tilak Nagar, and Majnu Ka Tila. Sardar Beant Singh, a senior citizen from Afghanistan who has been in Delhi for 29 years, said that asylum seekers shouldn’t be harassed for documents.
“We were given 20 years visa when we came here. What else (proof) do they want? This (granting of citizenship) should be done at the earliest,” he said.
‘Rules yet to be framed’ BJP vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said subordinate legislations and rules for providing citizenship are yet to be framed to implement CAA.