Threatening to take the authorities to the Supreme Court, in view of harassing the migrants eligible for Indian citizenship, the protestors met the deputy commissioner of Jalandhar under the leadership of Surinder K Billa. Billa has been instrumental in bringing together migrated families spread all over Punjab.
The families said despite spending 10 to 15 years in India, the government had not provided them citizenship.
According to the Citizen Amendment Rules, 2004, which were made under Citizenship Rules 1956 of the Citizenship Act 1955, as notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “in respect of minority Hindus with Pakistan citizenship, who have migrated to India more than five years ago with intention of permanently settling down in India and have applied for India citizenship, the authority to register a person as a citizen of India under clauses (a), (c), (d) and (e) of subsection (1) of Section (5) of the Act shall be the concerned collector of the district where the applicant is ordinarily a resident of”.
Billa said there were nearly 2,000 to 5,000 Hindu families who have migrated from Pakistan and are presently living in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi.
Simak Ram, who had migrated from Peshwar in 2000, said of the 100 Hindu families in Peshawar, over 50 migrated to India in the last five to seven years. “Hindu girls are picked up by Muslims, which is a major factor for the migration,” he said.
“We are very much Indians but the Indian government is harassing us. And in the absence of any identity, we cannot get any respectable work and our children are not getting admission in schools and colleges,” he added.
“We have been living here for over a decade now. How can we renew our passports from Pakistan?” asked Ashok Kumar, another migrant.
Billa said the Gujarat and Rajasthan governments had made arrangements to help such migrants, but in Punjab no such effort had been made.