Girl who brought ‘Nagrikta’ to her fellow refugees

The elderly from the slum keep visiting Nagrikta’s shanty to check how the little one is doing in the freezing cold. They have neither gas stoves nor heaters, but keep warm with firewood.
Nagrikta, a Pakistani Hindu child born in India who got her Birth Certificate issued recently, seen with family members at Majnu ka Tilla in New Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times photo)
Nagrikta, a Pakistani Hindu child born in India who got her Birth Certificate issued recently, seen with family members at Majnu ka Tilla in New Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times photo)
Updated on Dec 31, 2019 07:17 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByBaishali Adak

One-month-old ‘Nagrikta’ is already a star in her refugee colony housing 150 Hindu families from Pakistan at north Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tila near the inter-state bus terminus (ISBT).

North Delhi Municipal Corporation standing committee chairperson Jai Prakash visited her hutment in the shanties on Monday to hand over her birth certificate to her parents.

On December 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned her name at a rally in Ramlila Maidan to explain how much the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) means to Hindu refugees from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. “A family in Majnu Ka Tila is so happy with it, they have named their daughter Nagrikta (citizenship),” he had said.

The elderly from the slum keep visiting Nagrikta’s shanty to check how the little one is doing in the freezing cold. They have neither gas stoves nor heaters, but keep warm with firewood.

“Ye ladki hamare liye accha bhagya leke ayi hai (This girl has brought us good luck),” says Kulwanti Devi, a 55-year-old resident of the refugee colony, originally from Sindh in Pakistan. “We faced so many hardships in our land of birth. We were discriminated against, ill-treated and forced to leave everything. After decades of waiting, we got Nagrikta (amended CAA law) finally,” she said.

The baby girl, Nagrikta, was born to Arti Devi and Ishwar Lal on November 24 at the Aruna Asaf Ali government Hospital in Civil Lines. After a month of deliberations over what she should be called, on December 11, when the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha, the dwellers decided she’ll not have any ordinary name but a unique one — ‘Nagrikta.’

“The entire mohalla decided that. We were all so happy,” says Arti, who keeps glancing at the stamp of the State Emblem of India on her daughter’s laminated birth certificate.

“As children, we dreamt of settling in India. There are no secular or modern schools for Hindus, Christians or other minorities in Pakistan. There are no jobs for adults and with frequent bomb blasts, there is no guarantee you’d reach home intact once you cross the doorstep,” said Ishwar Lal.

“With the Indian government showing mercy on us, we are now assured that at least our future generation -- Nagrikta and her siblings -- will have better lives,” said Dayal Das, Nagrikta’s grandfather and sarpanch of the refugee colony.

Jai Prakash said, “We speeded up the process of Nagrikta’s birth certificate and provided it in 10 days of the application being filed. We will do the same for all children of Hindu refugees across Delhi now.”

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