Name in India voters' list cost woman Malaysian citizenship

Mageswari Koothan, 52, said she had never registered as a voter nor voted in India. She cannot get a job here, nor can she return to India to be with her family.

She has appealed for intervention by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to end eight years of misery.

"While the government has revoked my citizenship, India's home ministry stamped my passport for overstaying and granted me a one-way exit to leave the country in 2004," The Star newspaper quoted her as saying Monday.

In 2002, Mageswari received a notice from the Malaysian National Registration Department telling her that she was no longer a Malaysian after it found she was registered as a voter in India.

She stayed in India after marrying an Indian national at 16, but has been returning to Malaysia regularly.

Her troubles began when she wanted to renew her passport in 1989 at the Malaysian High Commission in India.

She was informed her documents had to be sent to Malaysia for renewal and 13 years later she received the citizenship revocation notice.

"This is indeed perplexing. As a Malaysian citizen, how could I have registered as a voter in India?" asked Mageswari.

After numerous appeals, she finally received a letter from the home ministry in 2004, telling her that she could come back to Malaysia to attend an inquiry on her citizenship.

When she arrived here, her passport was confiscated at the airport, and a few months after the inquiry she received her new MyKad, the Malaysian identity card.

"The immigration department informed me that I would be able to get back my passport in 2008, after being suspended for three years since I overstayed in India," said Mageswari.

She assumed everything was okay until she received another letter from the department in 2008 stating that her citizenship had been revoked again.

"Now I am stateless, and I have not seen my children and husband since I came here in 2002."

She is one among the 1.7 million ethnic Indians who have made Malaysia their home.

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