JAIPUR: The 19 Pakistani migrants living in the border district of Rajasthan, Barmer, had a big reason to celebrate on the World Refugees Day. On Wednesday, Indian citizenship was granted to them after a long wait of over a decade.
Certificates of Indian citizenship were handed out to them at an event held at the district collectorate. In the last year, many Pakistani migrants have got the Indian citizenship and from October 2018 the application process has been made available online as well.
But there are many who have been waiting for a long time and facing many problems due to delay.
"The state government has granted Indian citizenship to 19 Pak migrants who have been living in Barmer district for more than a decade, District Collector Himanshu Gupta said. Expressing their happiness, the migrants said getting Indian citizenship after years of wait is a dream come true.
The decision to grant citizenship to these 19 migrants living in Barmer, along with 10 living in Pali and 5 in Jalore, was announced by the Rajasthan government on Tuesday.
Rajasthan has almost a1000 km long border with Pakistan.
A lot of Pakistani citizens migrated to India for their livelihood long back. They are living in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Sriganganagar, Jodhpur and Jaipur but are struggling to get an identity. Without Indian citizenship, the benefits of government schemes cannot be taken by pregnant women.
People cannot get jobs due to lack of documents like Aadhaar card and Voter ID. Nearly 20 thousand Pakistanis displaced are living in Jodhpur district itself. Of these, more than 9 thousand have no citizenship.
According to the Seemant Lok Sangathan, which raises the voice of Hindus coming from Pakistan, there are 35,000 people in Rajasthan who are in the queue for the citizenship of India.
Most of them are either Dalits or tribals of Bheel community. Govind Bhil, President of Sursagar area of the Seemant Lok Sanghathan said, "most of the Hindus living in Pakistan are troubled by discrimination and atrocities on the basis of their religion. Those who do not convert to Islam, have no choice other than to come to India."
Ashok Meghwal displaced from Pakistan says, "till the time the citizenship of the migrants is not given, they do not get their other documents as well. Young people do not get government and private jobs but have to work mostly as farmers or labourers. The biggest problem is getting treatment for pregnant women as without Aadhar card they do not sonography services from the hospital."
Another Pakistani displaced, Ramchandra Solanki says," There is no land in the city for the last rites of the Pak migrants. The displaced people made an arrangement of temporary land in Kali Beri with the permission of the owner. But some people shut the road with illegal construction near the site."
However, in the last one year, Pak migrants were given the highest number of citizenship. Along with this, the application process was made online. But still many are struggling for citizenship. Jodhpur District Collector Prakash Rajpurohit has directed to distribute citizenship by settling the applications pending for years.
The team distributed citizenship to 654 people in just 6 months. Prior to this, in 2018 only 443 people were given citizenship.
Hindu Singh Sodha, president of the Seemant Lok Sangathan, says, two years ago, the government gave rights to the district authorities for distributing citizenship, but there was very slow progress in it. Even the people whose cases have been old haven't got any success and their numbers are over 5000."
"People are living in pain and fear of the future. Taking advantage of this helplessness, a gang of brokers has become active in government departments. These people fleece money from them and threaten to send them back. One such gang was caught two years ago. It included an employee of the central government", He added.
"Government should have thought how difficult it has been for people coming from Pakistan. If all had been well why would we have left our ancestral property?", Mahendra, a migrant, asks.
PM Narendra Modi had recently talked about giving the migrants Indian citizenship during his election rallies in Western Rajasthan. BJP was able to win all the seats from in the border districts of Western Rajasthan.