Cross-border brides become citizens, can travel freely now
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.