There’s a ray of hope for thousands of Pakistani refugees who fled to India over the past few decades. The Centre has removed the main roadblock to their acquiring Indian citizenship and intends to tell the states to reach out to 12,000 eligible Pakistani nationals to complete formalities to become Indian citizens.
According to home ministry records, these 12,000 Pakistanis — most of them Hindus — entered India on long-term visas before 2004, 75% of them
having migrated to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
“The government has waived off the rule requiring them to produce a certificate from the Pakistani government to establish they have surrendered their Pakistani citizenship. This was a major hurdle since this certificate wasn’t forthcoming,” a ministry official said.
Instead, all they have to do is produce an affidavit to this effect.
The rule was changed last May but the ministry believes the states haven’t been implementing it. “We are conveying the need for district police chiefs and deputy commissioners to reach out to these people,” the official said.
“For a community that lived in miserable conditions in Pakistan, and is treated no better in India, it is a welcome step,” said Rajesh Gogna of Human Rights Defense (India), which works with migrants from Pakistan.