Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 1
Falak Ram came to India from Pakistan on May 25, 1998, with his family of 10. They moved to Jalandhar and joined 200 other Hindu families who had shifted from Pakistan in 1990. None of these families want to go back.
“I got married in August 2001. I have a schoolgoing daughter. My four sisters and brothers, who came with me, are married and settled here. We now want citizenship rights. If citizenship can be granted to Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, why not us,” asks Falak Ram.
A large number of Hindu families, who came to India on valid visas in
the late nineties are settled in Gurdaspur and Jalandhar districts.
“We applied for citizenship but the Union Government refused to accept our expired passports. To get the passports renewed, we need to go to Pakistan. But we are afraid we will not be allowed to return on our arrival there. We could be punished too,” said Kala Ram, another migrant from Pakistan who resides in Basti Bawa Khel.
“Despite being Hindus, we have not been granted Indian citizenship whereas the government has chosen to oblige Adnan Sami ,” observed a rather bitter Kala Ram. “My children are now in high school. We have built our houses here and have been given gas and power connections,” he said. Most Hindu migrants are from Sialkot’s Sadra-Badra area in Pakistan. They live in Jalandhar’s Gandhi Camp, Basti Bawa Khel and Bhargo Camp. Some Hindu families have moved on to Rajasthan.
“We have submitted our documents to the Union Government but nothing has materialised so far”, said Falak Ram. Without citizenship, these Hindu migrants cannot buy land or property. Also, they are not allowed to vote.
“Our children were born here and are natural citizens of India. But they face several problems. They are not eligible for a government job”, said Kala Ram, whose parents worked with Pakistan’s sports industry.
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