Eased im­mi­gra­tion rules give Pak brides in In­dia a ticket to travel

Court: Can’t rule on Jewish di­vorce

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Pra­fulla Marpak­war & Bella Jais­ing­hani

Mum­bai: Ma­ha­rash­tra has wit­nessed a six-fold in­crease in ap­pli­ca­tions for In­dian cit­i­zen­ship from Pak­istani na­tion­als ever since re­lax­ation and sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of im­mi­gra­tion rules in De­cem­ber 2017. The gainers in­clude cross-bor­der brides in Mum­bai who have waited for cit­i­zen­ship for close to a decade.

Mahim’s Zahida An­sari (36), orig­i­nally from Karachi, AJewish

cou­ple’s plea for di­vorce by mu­tual con­sent was dis­missed by a fam­ily court as “there is no such pro­vi­sion in the un­cod­i­fied Jewish law gov­ern­ing mat­ri­mo­nial af­fairs”. got her cit­i­zen­ship af­ter 10 years of her mar­riage to cousin Mo­hammed Azam. “The big­gest 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. Even af­ter hav­ing kids, fam­ily out­ings to even a neigh­bour­ing hill sta­tion such as Lon­avla were a pipe dream.

Against an av­er­age of 10 ap­pli­ca­tions ev­ery six months ear­lier, to­day nearly 50 to 60 mi­grants from Pak­istan ap­ply for In­dian cit­i­zen­ship in Ma­ha­rash­tra dur­ing the pe­riod. Ap­pli­ca­tions are also cleared in a time-bound pe­riod now since the pow­ers have been del­e­gated to col­lec­tors in Mum­bai, Pune, Thane and Nag­pur,” a se­nior home de­part­ment of­fi­cial told TOI on Satur­day.

“Ap­pli­ca­tions are pro­cessed in seven days, sub­ject to a favourable po­lice re­port,” said Mum­bai col­lec­tor Shiva­ji­rao Jond­hale. Cur­rently, just seven ap­pli­ca­tions for cit­i­zen­ship are pend­ing in Mum­bai.

Politi­cian Gu­ru­mukh Jag­wani from Jal­gaon, a doc­tor by pro­fes­sion, mi­grated to In­dia from Sindh in 1985 and suc­ceeded in se­cur­ing In­dian cit­i­zen­ship in 1990. He was elected to the state leg­isla­tive coun­cil in 2004 and re-elected in 2014. “It is a fact that there has been a spurt in mi­grants from Pak­istan ap­ply­ing for cit­i­zen­ship for safety and se­cu­rity rea­sons,” said Jag­wani, point­ing out that af­ter Par­ti­tion, In­dian cit­i­zen­ship was granted to (Left) Asma, who mar­ried Vaseem when she was 21, vis­ited In­dia reg­u­larly since child­hood; (right) Zeenat, from Karachi, has been mar­ried to Shahid for nine years those who had lived in the coun­try for five con­tin­u­ous years. Dur­ing then PM Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee’s ten­ure, the pe­riod was re­duced to two years for tech­nocrats. When the UPA gov­ern­ment took over, the pe­riod of con­tin­u­ous stay was en­hanced to seven years.

By­culla res­i­dent Zeenat Fa­tima (34) is also from Karachi. Her hus- band 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 in Temkar Street. “My mother hails from In- dia 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 cross-bor­der 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 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 they 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.

In the past, an av­er­age of 10 ap­pli­ca­tions were re­ceived ev­ery six months from Pak­istani mi­grants in Ma­ha­rash­tra. To­day, the fig­ure stands be­tween 50 and 60 ev­ery six months

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