Selling peanuts, ex-Pak MP smiles over Citizenship Act

Selling peanuts, ex-Pak MP smiles over Citizenship Act

Divyaram outside his shop

Along the rows of shops on the roadside in Rattangarh village in Haryana’s Fatehabad, 74-year-old Divayaram sits on the ground, selling peanuts. His modest stock, including some jaggery-laden sweets that he sells to make a living, is neatly stacked on a blue trampoline. 

Today, Divayaram may be struggling to make ends meet, but this ageing Hindu was once a Parliamentarian in Pakistan. He looks back at life with remorse but the last few days have been like a dream come true for him. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act brings hope for him. His wait for 19-years for Indian citizenship may possibly end. 

The former Pakistan parliamentarian shudders to recall his ordeal in Pakistan, being a Hindu at the mercy of the majority Muslims. Divayaram says he was nominated as a member of parliament when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan. “I used to live with my family in Pakistan’s Lohiya district. There were a few seats reserved for non-Muslims in Pakistan. I was made an MP by Benazir Bhutto. But that aggravated my ordeal there,” he recalled.

The former MP claims he was targeted after he became an MP in Pakistan and was asked to resign by a lobby of Muslims who never wanted non-Muslim representation. He said his daughter-like niece was kidnapped within 15-days of his becoming an MP. He was threatened with dire consequences if he did not resign, he claims. Divayaram said he even approached the courts but to little avail.  Finally, he said, after three months in Parliament, he had to tender his resignation. 

“Back in Pakistan, we had 25 acres of land. It’s all now with the locals in the village,” he claims. Divayaram and his family of 12 members came to India in winter of January 2000 on a one-month visa. He petitioned the local deputy commissioner to allow him and his family to stay in India, citing atrocities on Hindus in Pakistan. He was permitted to stay and has been continuing his life on periodic renewals. 

“I am very happy today. My family and children will now get their due,” he said. In Punjab’s Amritsar and Jalandhar, there are scores of families who "fled" from Pakistan to India. The CAB, they say, has come as a blessing for them.