Residents of Pune & Pimpri-Chinchwad for years, 22 Pakistani nationals granted Indian citizenship

Aarian Kumar Jeswani, 12, and the 21 others who were granted Indian citizenship, at the Pune District Collectorate on Tuesday. (Express photo by Arul Horizon)

Twenty-two Pakistani nationals, who have been living in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad for years, were granted Indian citizenship by the Pune District Collectorate on Tuesday. Resident Deputy Collector Dr Jayashree Katare handed over Indian citizenship documents to the 22 persons, majority of whom belong to the Sindhi community, in the presence of Sindhi religious leader Yudhishthir Maharaj.

Among the new Indian citizens were Ashok Kumar Talreja and his wife Sangita Talreja, both in their 40s, who shouted slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai after receiving their citizenship papers.

Speaking on what prompted them to move to India, Ashok Kumar Talreja said, We were living in Sindh province of Pakistan. As the situation became worse for us, we moved to India, along with our family members, about 21 years ago… We are extremely happy to be Indians . Talreja works in the Market Yard area and is a resident of Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Aarian Kumar Jeswani, 12, was also among those who became an Indian citizen on Tuesday. I was only one when I came to India from Pakistan with my parents and elder sister. All of us have got Indian citizenship. We are proud to be Indians, said Jeswani.

As per an order issued by the Union Home Ministry on December 26, 2016, the district collectors of Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Thane have been conferred with powers to grant citizenship to Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Afghanistani refugees living in their jurisdiction. This power, given to the district administration, was meant to be exercised only in the case of applicants belonging to minority communities Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians in these countries. Accordingly, in the last six months, Indian citizenship has been given to 120 Pakistani nationals residing in Pune, most of whom belong to the Sindhi community. Pune District Collector Naval Kishor Ram had handed over Indian citizenship certificates to 45 Pakistani nationals living in Pune in March this year.

Social activist Balasaheb Runwal of Mere Apne organisation, who has been working on this issue for a long time, said, We held a meeting for Pakistani nationals seeking Indian citizenship 15 days ago. Nearly 300 persons participated in the meeting and discussed their issues. Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune City Police helped us as well. We are thankful to the district collector and his team for the work they have done.

There are about 300 to 400 more proposals with us from people seeking Indian citizenship. There is a procedure to be followed, like getting no objection certificates from different departments, before granting Indian citizenship. The procedure has been streamlined, said Katare.