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'Dream-come-true' moment for those who got Indian citizenship under CAA

The Union home secretary handed over the certificates to the 14 people after their applications were processed online through a designated portal.
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 17:17 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 17:17 IST

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New Delhi: Bharat Kumar's protracted struggle to call India home after escaping religious persecution in Pakistan ended following an 11-year wait as he was among the 14 people who were granted Indian nationality under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) on Wednesday.

"It is a great feeling to be an Indian. It has given a new life to me," the 24-year-old told PTI after he received the citizenship certificate from Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla at a special function held here.

Kumar said his family came to India to escape religious persecution in the Sindh province of Pakistan.

"When we came here, I was just 13 years old. We had to leave Pakistan as it was difficult to live there under constant fear," he said about the life across the border.

In Delhi, Kumar's family lives in the Majnu Ka Tila area and they are engaged in small-time business. He said a total of five people got Indian citizenship in his locality on Wednesday. Over a hundred had applied for it, he said.

"We were told that the rest of the applicants will also get the citizenship in due course," he said, adding that getting Indian citizenship is a "dream come true" for him.

He said they were grateful to the government for ending the uncertainty and their woes.

Seetal Das, who also lives in Majnu Ka Tila and sells mobile phone covers for a living, said his family of 19 too came from Sindh in Pakistan in 2013 and three of them got citizenship on Wednesday.

"I am very happy. The government has fulfilled our desire. Now I can live a dignified life in India."

Asked about the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, Kumar said he would miss exercising his franchise this time as the deadline to include his name in the voters' list is already over. "I will definitely vote in next election as an Indian," he told PTI.

Yoshoda, who too came from Sindh in Pakistan and received the Indian citizenship on Wednesday, said she can now live a dignified life as an Indian.

Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said that with her Indian nationality, the future of her family and children would be secured now. "My long wait for getting Indian citizenship is over now. I am really happy."

The first set of citizenship certificates under the CAA was issued Wednesday here to 14 people, nearly two months after rules under the contentious law were notified to grant Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries.

The Union home secretary handed over the certificates to the 14 people after their applications were processed online through a designated portal.

The CAA was enacted in December 2019 for granting Indian nationality to persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

After the enactment, the CAA got the president's assent but the rules under which the Indian citizenship was granted were issued on March 11 this year after over a delay of four years.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah termed it a "historic day", saying the decades-long wait of those who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is over.

Dayal Das, a 47-year-old resident of Majnu Ka Tila, said, "Our kids' future is secure now as we have received the Indian citizenship certificate after struggling a lot to flee Pakistan. We came to India from Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan, in 2013. We felt unsafe there and came to our country. Today, our struggle has paid off and we can call ourselves Indians. I am really thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for implementing CAA and giving us citizenship."

Das' two children -- Bharat and Yashoda (25) -- have also been granted citizenship along with him.

"My children will have access to education and other facilities. After our other family members also get citizenship, we will visit the Ram temple in Ayodhya to offer prayers. It is due to the blessings of the almighty that we have got citizenship of our country," he said.

Das said that now he will apply for a voter card.

"It will be the first document that I will get. Then we will get other identity cards made. I will get to vote and I plan to exercise my franchise in the Delhi Assembly elections next year," he said.

Das runs a cold drink shop in Majnu Ka Tila.

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Published 15 May 2024, 17:17 IST

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