JAIPUR: A year after Modigovernment granted district collectors of seven states the right to award citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Rajasthan that has over 22,000 Hindu migrants from Pakistan has granted citizenship to just 56 of them. The slow progress has perturbed the home ministry, as result of which Rajasthan home department has directed district collectors to expedite the process. The home department is also holding the video conferencing of district collectors to review the status on Tuesday. The poor performance has caught the attention of Jodhpur bench of Rajasthan High Court that took suo moto cognizance. The matter will be heard on December 14.
The special powers under the “grant of certificate of naturalization under Section 6 of the Citizenship Act” in December 2016 were delegated to three district collectors–Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. While the DM of rest cities have to forward the case to the home department of Rajasthan. It was aimed to provide religious minorities—Hindus, Sikhs, Janis, Parsis and Christians naturalized citizenship on certain grounds. It grounds includes that an applicant should have a long term visa, grandparents or parents born in undivided India, either male or female married to an Indian national etc.
State which has highest number of migrants showed up only 56 Indian citizenship awards—- 43 living in Jaipur and 13 in Jodhpur has disappointed hundreds of applicants living from close to two decades. Hindu Singh Soda, president of Seemanth Lok Sangathan, a body working for the welfare of Pak Hindus migrants, says that if the administration goes by this speed 90% of the migrants will be awarded citizenship after they have lived their life. “Delegating special powers is meant to save these migrants from the pain and suffering has actually failed to provide any respite to these naturalized citizens of mother India. The administration has to complete the process a stipulated time despite the deliver dismal result,” said Soda.
The district collectors say that process of granting citizenship involves several layers of administrative scrutiny and requires collaboration of several agencies. Ravi Surpur, district collector of Jodhpur which probably has highest number of migrants from Pakistan in the country, says, “Few months’ back the process has been simplified which will help us in expediting the applications. The matter is also sub judice and under the monitoring of the Jodhpur bench of Rajasthan High Court.”