A majority of Hindu-Sikh refugees from Afghanistan say that they have not been able to get Indian citizenship despite spending close to two decades here. As per norms, however, they are eligible for Indian citizenship once they spend seven years in the country. The fake passport racket by Afghan refugees in India has highlighted this fact too.
Over the years, a large number of Hindu-Sikh have migrated from war-ravaged Afghanistan, where they have lived for ages, and have been living in various localities of Delhi.
“All of us have Afghan documents as identity proofs and after spending the specified time limit we applied for Indian citizenship which the government could have provided after proper investigation but till date, majority of us have not been issued citizenship,” said one such migrant Guldeep Singh, a relative of one the Afghan refugees arrested in the fake passport case.
Another migrant M S Arora, who lives in Delhi, said that there were a large number of Afghan Sikhs have been fighting to get citizenship.
“We should not be harassed by the government as we must be granted citizenship because we don’t have any identity here,” he added.
Police sources in Nawanshahr also revealed that one of those arrested, Deep Kaur, whose original name is Mandip Kaur, had come to India in 1992 when she was just three months old and despite spending her entire life here, she was not granted Indian citizenship without which she could not apply for an Indian passport. Police said that she finally procured the passport on a fake name as she wanted to join her husband in Moscow.
As per the Indian Citizenship Act 1955, subsequently amended, any migrant who spends over seven year in the country can be granted citizenship after proper investigation.
A senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, admitted that it was the system which forced the refugees to seek the fake passports but added that they cannot be pardoned as it was illegal.
Police, meanwhile, named P K Jain, Manmeet Singh of Delhi, and one Harbans Singh of Nawanshahr district as those involved in getting the fake passports with connivance of police, postmen and agents.
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