Centre grants citizenship to Pakistani woman in J&K

Srinagar: Life has come full circle for Pakistani resident Khatija Parveen after she the Centre granted her Indian citizenship. It comes 39 years after she married Indian citizen Mohammad Taj, a resident of Poonch district in Jammu division.

Hailing from Attok in Pakistani Punjab, Khatija married Taj in 1980. Three years later, the bride came home to Poonch. Since then, she has been living on an extended visa in Poonch. In between, the couple was blessed with three children. However, the craving to stay with family remained high on her agenda.

“One has to complete certain formalities for getting Indian citizenship. A foreigner should have stayed for five years in India before being considered for Indian citizenship. My wife completed that period from 1994 to 2000,” said Taj.

Later in December 2000, Khatija applied for the citizenship with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The case remained pending for years, and in the process, her file was lost.

“In 2011, she reapplied for citizenship. Later, the government completed the formalities, including verification. Finally, we got the letter that my wife’s case is in consideration. The authorities had directed my wife to renounce Pakistani citizenship before proceeding further,” Taj said.

Last month, the Centre broke the good news to the family and asked them to collect the certificate from the District Development Commissioner, Poonch. “I received a letter on October 21, asking me to collect the certificate from the District Development Commissioner. In between the offices shifted and DC sahib was busy. Yesterday, I finally got the certificate,” Taj said.

District Development Commissioner of Poonch, Rahul Yadav said that Khatija was granted citizenship based on her marriage to an Indian citizen. “She was granted citizenship under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1955. She has been living here for more than 20 to 25 years. She had applied for the citizenship a long time ago,” said Yadav.

The Centre has granted citizenship to Khatija at a time when the entire country is up in arms against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Violent protests have rocked different parts of the country in which several people have lost their lives.

National Conference has jumped onto the bandwagon and passed a resolution condemning the Citizenship Act, even as the Centre granted Indian citizenship to a Pakistani woman, 39 years after her marriage.

For the first time since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, National Conference held its provincial-level meeting at Nawa-i-Subah headquarters here on December 23. On this occasion, the party passed two resolutions, one of them condemning the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Meanwhile, the other demanded the immediate release of the detained political leaders, including former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and civil society members.

National Conference also criticised “the violence in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University”, and the attempts to “marginalise” Muslim community.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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