WITH THE Pakistan High Commission refusing to issue fresh computerised identity cards to Pakistani Sindhis, they have asked the Centre to enforce the 2003 amendment of the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 in Madhya Pradesh. The Act empowers a district magistrate to grant nationality.
About 3,800 Pakistani Sindhis have been living in Indore district without Indian nationality for more than 30 years. They have written a letter to the Centre saying those who migrated from Pakistan for permanent settlement in India and have been residing here for more than five years are eligible to get Indian citizenship through district magistrates in Rajasthan and Gujarat under the 2003 amendment and this should be extended to MP.
“Pakistani Sindhis are caught in a vicious circle,” said Deepchand Chawla, an office-bearer of the Indore Sindhi Central Panchayat.
Denying identity cards, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has been insisting for the past five years that they go to Pakistan to get them. Since their passports are not valid in the absence of renewed I-cards, they can not go to Pakistan. Their only option is that they go to the Pakistani High Commission every year to extend the validity of their passport, which is essential to stay in India and obtain Indian nationality.
“The agents at the embassy demand Rs 5,000 bribe for this. And if we do go back to Pakistan, its government suspects us of being Indian agents and wants to know why we left Pakistan or why we stayed back after partition. So where do we go?” local businessman and Pakistani national for 21 years Lalchand Wadhwani remarked. He is staying in the City for past 15 years.
Says another local businessman Harish Kingrani, “We are frustrated of going to New Delhi every year and that is why we have demanded that the 2003 amendment be applied to MP as well. It will save us from all the problems we face.” His elder brother Namdev, a betel nut trader at Siyaganj, is residing here for past 15 years on long-term visa. According to Indore District Special Branch (police), 500 out of 3,800 Pakistani Sindhis have been granted Indian citizenship while 1,500 applications are under process.
District administration, meanwhile, held a camp on Sunday to receive their application forms for photo attestation to grant them permanent Indian nationality. ADM Rameshwar Gupta, who was present among other police and administrative officials at the camp, said that about 150 forms received till 2 pm would be forwarded for physical verification of the applicants through police and concerned SDMs. They will be then be sent to Bhopal and New Delhi for final consent.