Cross-bor­der brides be­come cit­i­zens, can travel freely now

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY -

Mum­bai: The gain­ers from the re­lax­ation in im­mi­gra­tion rules in­clude cross-bor­der brides in Mum­bai who have waited for cit­i­zen­ship for close to a decade.

In Mahim’s Ka­pad Bazar lives Zahida An­sari (36), from Karachi, Pak­istan, who got her cit­i­zen­ship af­ter 10 years of her mar­riage to cousin Mo­hammed Azam, a seam­ster. “I am very pleased to have ac­quired In­dian cit­i­zen­ship. I have two small chil­dren and the small hur­dles of pa­per­work are now ironed out,” she said.

“The most im­por­tant ad­van­tage that comes with cit­i­zen­ship is the lib­erty to travel any­where in In­dia,” said Asma Gazd­har also born in Karachi. “For­eign­ers are not al­lowed to travel out­side the city for which they se­cured a visa. I have not gone out­side Mum­bai in seven years.”

For this rea­son, none of these brides had a hon­ey­moon af­ter mar­riage. Even af­ter hav­ing chil­dren, fam­ily out­ings to even a neigh­bour­ing hill sta­tion such as Lon­avla and Ma­ha­balesh­war were a pipe dream.

By­culla res­i­dent Zeenat Fa­tima (34) is from Karachi too. Her hus­band Shahid Us­mani, a soft­ware en­gi­neer, says they were mar­ried nine years ago and have two chil­dren. “My wife got her ap­proval and within 15 months she got her card,” he said.

Asma was 21 when she mar­ried Vaseem Gazd­har, an in­ter­net cable con­trac­tor, who lives on Temkar Street. “My mother hails from In­dia and moved to Pak­istan af­ter mar­riage. Since child­hood, I had been vis­it­ing In­dia dur­ing my sum­mer va­ca­tion to meet rel­a­tives in Jodh­pur,” she said. Now 30 and a mother of two, Asma and Vaseem are pleased that she has fi­nally earned the red doc­u­ment that de­clares her an In­dian na­tional.

Since many of these cross­bor­der mar­riages are con­san­guineous, the cou­ple have rel­a­tives liv­ing in other cities or towns of In­dia. Asma said, “I was un­able to go to Jodh­pur, where my el­ders, aunt, un­cle and cousins live, for a fam­ily Ap­pli­cant must sign an oath of al­le­giance

I..., wife/hus­band of..., do solemnly af­firm and swear in the name of God that I will bear true faith and al­le­giance to the Constitution of In­dia as by the law es­tab­lished and that I will faith­fully ob­serve the laws of In­dia and ful­fil my du­ties as a ci­ti­zen of In­dia wed­ding. My grand­mother passed away but I could not at­tend the fu­neral. I have not seen my par­ents in years. They ar­rived from Pak­istan for the mar­riage in Ra­jasthan but did not get a visa to Mum­bai and I was un­able to go to Jodh­pur in spite of putting in an ap­pli­ca­tion in New Delhi. We were in the same coun­try but could not meet. That was a sad mo­ment for us. Now I am ea­gerly look­ing for­ward to a re­union.”

Each of them wishes that the law is amended to al­low for­eign­ers in In­dia to pay hazri (at­ten­dance) at the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion while trav­el­ling, un­til they re­ceive na­tion­al­ity.

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