AHMEDABAD, July 21: Nandlal Meghani's, Dr Vishandas Mankani's and Kishanlal Andani's joy knows no bounds. They are among the 114 Pakistan citizens to have received Indian citizenship. The recipients will receive their citizenship certificates today.
High crime rate in Pakistan
Sharing his joy with Mirror, Nandlal Meghani, 50, a resident of Ghatlodia, said, "I along with my wife and daughter came to India 16 years ago from Sindh in Pakistan. We sold our home and business to make a new start here in India. We were impressed with the common man's life here as soon as we arrived and applied for the Indian citizenship. The main reason to opt for Indian citizenship was the high crime rate in Pakistan. Even our Muslim friends back in Pakistan encouraged us to shift to India, looking at widespread terrorism there." Meghani was engaged in auto parts business in Pakistan. In India, he started afresh by starting a home renovation firm. His sons are engaged in medical stores.
'Terrorism made life hell for us'
Kishanlal Andani, 59, said, "I had migrated to India in 2005 with my wife and four sons. My sons will arrive tomorrow and we plan to apply for Indian citizenship for our daughter-in-laws as well." Andani owned a general store in Tharpakar town of Sindh province in Pakistan. In India he has started a utensils shop along with his children. With tears welling up in his eyes, Andani said, "I often think about the place I left behind and my friends there. However, the menace of terrorism had made it difficult for us to survive. When we ventured out every day, we remained unsure whether we would return home in the evening. My Muslim friends there stood by me when riots broke out over the issue of a local temple and mosque. They offered me protection during the most critical time of our lives."
'India is secure, more developed'
Appreciating the central government's move to grant collectorates power to decide upon applications, Dr Vishandas Mankani, 50, a resident of Sola Road who came to India in 2001 on visitor visa with four children, said, "I and my wife got citizenship in 2016. Now my children have also got it. We are impressed with development in India, which is absent in Pakistan. Safety is also something one can vouch for in India." Dr Mankani recently retired from medical practice while his sons run a mobile shop to earn livelihood.
Collectors empowered to process applications
According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, district magistrates (district collector) are empowered to examine applications seeking Indian citizenship and take the final decision. The Ahmedabad collector's office is examining another batch of 216 applications, the decision on which will be taken soon. Ahmedabad district collector Avantika Singh said, "Powers have been delegated to respective collector's offices to process applications seeking citizenship, including those made by residents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Earlier, the pleas had to be made to the central home ministry. All these cases have now been transferred to collectorates." TOI
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