A Sikh refugee showing his Afghan passport in Ludhiana on Saturday. [Photo/ANI]
A Sikh refugee showing his Afghan passport in Ludhiana on Saturday. [Photo/ANI]

Afghan Sikh refugees residing in Punjab for more than 5 years hope to become Indian citizens after MHA invites applications for citizenship

ANI | Updated: May 30, 2021 01:58 IST

Ludhiana (Punjab) [India], May 29 (ANI): As the Central Government invited applications from the immigrants belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for Indian citizenship, several Sikh refugees from Afghanistan living in India for more than five years now have expressed happiness and thanked the government for enacting a law that makes them eligible to be official citizens of the country.
Amreek Singh, a Sikh refugee who had come from Kabul, Afghanistan and has been living in Ludhiana since 2013 told ANI, "I had come to India because survival had become very difficult there. We were told to change our religion and get converted to Islam. The Central Government had passed the Citizenship Amendment Act and recently applications have been opened for seeking Indian citizenship throught the law. We are thankful to the government for taking this step and are hopeful that we will become the citizen of India very soon."
"It is a moment of joy for us that the Indian Government has opened applications for citizenship. We are happy and hopeful that we will benefit from this initiative of the government," said Suneeta Kaur, another Sikh refugee from Afghanistan who had come to India six years ago.
Shammi Singh, who came to India in 2012 from Afghanistan said,"Today morning we got the news that the Indian Governmnt has invited applications from non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. In these gloomy times of COVID-19, the news came as a moment of joy for us. Once we get the citizenship, all our problems will be resolved. We will be able to apply for Aadhar card, ration card and other important documents for availing facilities made available by the Central governmnt to live life wth dignity."
"We will be happy if we get the Indian citizenship. But it will only be beneficial to us if we get secure jobs and means of earning income. Some of us have been selling certan items on carts, some drive autorickshaws and some are daily wage laborers. I am hopeful that our hardships will be reduced after we get Indian citizenship," said Ranjeet Singh who came to India in 2012 from Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had on Friday invited applications from the immigrants belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship.
The Union Home Ministry has also delegated powers to grant Indian citizenship to the immigrants to the home secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, besides collectors of districts spread across Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the Central Government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it, for registration as a citizen of India under section 5, or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under section 6, of the Citizenship Act, 1955, in respect of any person belonging to the minority community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians(hereinafter referred to as "the applicant"), residing in the districts mentioned in clause (a) below and the States mentioned in clause (b) below," the notification of Union Home Ministry read. (ANI)