LUCKNOW: Ensuring implementation of the amended Citizenship Act-2019, the Uttar Pradesh government has made the first move by sending the first list of refugees who had come from Pakistan, Bangladesh decades ago, and have been living in the state anticipating the citizenship of the country.
The refugees in Uttar Pradesh, around 50,000 in number, are basically from Pakistan and Bangladesh with maximum 38,000 living in colonies in the tarai district of Pilibhit, 260 km from state capital Lucknow, bordering Nepal.
The first list, which, has believably been sent to Centre by the state government, comprises refugees living across 19 districts including Pilibhit, Meerut, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, Agra, Rae Bareli, Saharanpur, Gorakhpur, Aligarh, Rampur, Muzaffarnagar, Hapur, Mathura, Kanpur, Pratapgarh, Varanasi, Amethi, Jhansi and Lucknow.
The initial list is accompanied by a report -- ‘Uttar Pradesh Mein Aaye Pakistan, Afghanistan Aevam Bangladesh ke Sharnarthiyon ki Aapbeeti Kahani’ comprising the tales of agony and despair of the refugees who fled their native place in Pakistan and Bangladesh owing to hostile regimes and state sponsored atrocities.
Last week, the state home department had directed district magistrates of all the 75 districts to identify the migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, who had been residing in their respective districts without obtaining Indian citizenship.
Additional chief secretary Awanish Awasthi confirmed to media persons that the state government, on the direction of the central government, had started the process of identification of the migrants who were eligible for Indian citizenship. Sources in the government said that the report containing their details and testimonies from a few immigrants from each city had been submitted to the home ministry.
Those who came to India in 1947 from Pakistan and during the turmoil of 1970 from Bangladesh (then eastern Pakistan) have stories galore to narrate their agony and the long wait to become the citizen of this country.
As per the version of those residing in colonies in Pilibhit, they are Indians but with no citizenship so far. “In Pakistan, we used to face exploitation and slurs of all kinds after the partition. Conversion, exploitation of our women, denial of rights to our children, we had to go through a hell till we migrated to India leaving behind our properties and a full-fledged life,” says Chitranjan, in his late 80s. Now based in Ramnagar market area of Pilibhit, he took refuge in India as 22-year-old along with his parents.
Similarly, Shobhan Das came to India in 1968 from eastern Pakistan to make India his abode again with his parents who are no more.
The refugees living in those districts confirmed that the government officials had approached them during the last few days. “They asked for our documents, interviewed us, sought birth certificates and details of our parents. They also filled up some forms on the basis of information provide by us,” claimed the residents of refugee colonies.
The interviews conducted reveal the circumstances under which the families had to move to India, largely from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
As per the official sources, while making the list, those, who came to India before December 31, 2009 from Pakistan and Bangladesh and Afghanistan, were supposed to furnish their valid residential permits along with the details of their parents and birth certificates. However, production of passport is optional for them.
Though the official sources claimed that the data of the entire state would be ready by January end and the figures would be updated continuously, all the SPs have also activated local intelligence units (LIUs) to identify illegal migrants residing in the districts as well.
Notably, UP police chief had issued a detailed circular on September 30, 2019 to all district police chiefs, directing them to launch a comprehensive drive for identification of illegal migrants.
According to the circular, the district police were expected to cross-check nationalities of people staying in camps and slums on city outskirts, roadsides, around railway stations and bus stands as well as slums that had recently come up on deserted stretches in their cities.