After 12-year wait, ‘oldest’ Pak-Hindu becomes Indian citizen in Jodhpur – Times of India
JAIPUR: Friday’s setting sun marked the beginning of a new dawn for centenarian
, a Pak-Hindu, who became a citizen of India, after waiting for 12 years.
At 101 years, Jamuna Mai is the oldest person of either sex to have been accorded Indian nationality in the country, the district administration claimed.
A small hamlet,
Sodha Ri Dhani in Jodhpur
, housing six Hindu migrant families from Pakistan, celebrated the new identity of their eldest member like never before. Her application for citizenship under the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 was cleared on Friday, after a struggle of 12 years. Mai signed the final ‘exit document’, an undertaking of leaving Pakistan’s nationality, on Friday, with the hope that her family members too would be accepted by India soon.
Officials said that during the citizenship camp in Jodhpur, they learnt that the date of birth of one applicant was 1918. As per records, the applicant, Mai was born in Punjab of united India. “Mai’s document was approved and she got her citizenship certificate on Friday evening,’’ confirmed Jawahar Chaudhary, Jodhpur ADM.
A happy Mai welcomed the event by dancing along with her son and sharing sweets with the family in a two-room house given by the local administration. “My family should also be given the same ID card,” said Mai via video call to this correspondent.
The good news has come 12 years after 15 members of the Meghwal family crossed over to India via Attari-Wagah border on a religious visa in August 2006. Before arriving here, the family’s only source of livelihood was farming on a zamindar’s land in Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab province (Pakistan). For decades, they suffered the usual exploitation of long working hours, low wages and no holiday. The mistreatment was the same to all landless labourers from all other religions too.
The situation turned ugly for them after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. “Our relations with Muslim landowners and neighbours changed overnight. The nightmare for our community started then. By 2000, we decided to move from Pakistan and, in 2006, we bid farewell to the land of our ancestors forever,” said Atma Ram, one of Mai’s two sons who migrated to India with her. One of the brothers is still in Pakistan.
‘Scrutiny of plea should be prompt’
The struggle continued in India as well. The hope of being accepted by their community (Meghwal) and India came crashing down as there was no one ready to provide accommodation or work during initial years. They faced rigorous rounds of questioning from the law enforcement agencies, which even forced them to think of returning to Pakistan.
Hindu Singh Sodha, an activist for Pak-Hindu migrants, who has been helping the family, said that there was need for authorities to take up such cases as priority. “Applications of the elderly must be considered urgently and the process of scrutiny should be prompt,” he said.