About 450 Pakistani Hindus, Sikhs await nod to return to India, apply for citizenship

We have no means to earn our livelihood. For the past six months, the family is staying at a relative’s house....

New Delhi: About 450 Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs stranded across the border are awaiting clearances to return to India and apply for citizenship under the newly amended Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Before the imposition of Covid-related lockdown, the immigrants had gone to meet their relatives or renew identity cards, passports on a ‘No Obligation to Return to India’ visa, valid for 60 days, said officials...

...While Indian citizens were allowed to come back, those on longterm visas were denied permission. “We have no means to earn our livelihood. For the past six months, the family is staying at a relative’s house. My elder brother used to sell mobile covers and headphones in Delhi,” Hartan told ET over phone from Tando Allahyar in Sindh, Pakistan. His elder brother Maloo (34) came to India on an LTV for five years...

...However, the Centre is yet to notify the CAA rules. The legislation had led to protests in different parts of the country. Since these refugees still hold passports or other identity documents issued by the Pakistan government, their re-entry into India is going to be a complex process, said officials. “As many as 28 members of my family came to Peshawar in Pakistan on a NORI visa in February this year,” said Jugjeet Singh who lived in New Delhi’s Tilak Nagar. “We have been asking the embassy authorities for our return to India but we have not received any communication,” 19-year-old Vikram Thakur told ET over phone from Pakistan. His family wants to apply for Indian citizenship on their return. 

Officials said visas of all those stranded due to lockdown have been extended while movement of foreign nationals are being facilitated in coordination with the embassies. “For Pak nationals, we have facilitated their movement by road. All returning Pak nationals will be screened as per the international norms and health protocols,” said another official.

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