Hindu refugees from Pakistan hail Parliament clearance to Citizenship Bill

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi

Hindu refugees from Pakistan, who have settled here in Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday expressed happiness over approval of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament which will allow them to get Indian nationality.

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday evening passed the contentious bill, completing the legislative process for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on Monday. It will now go to President Ram Nath Kovind for his assent before becoming a law.

According to an estimate, about 20,000 Hindu refugees from Pakistan are living in different cities of Madhya Pradesh.

Indore, a commercial hub, accounts for a large chunk of these migrants who have come from Pakistan's Sindh province.

A day after the CAB received the Rajya Sabha's approval, these migrants broke into song and dance celebration in Guru Nanak Colony here and greeted each other by offering sweets.

Indira (70), who came to Indore eight years ago from Sindh, was among those who attended the celebration.

"I would like to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because he is helping us (the refugee community)," she said, adding half of her family has been living in India, while the remaining members are still in Pakistan.

BJPs Lok Sabha MP from Indore Shankar Lalwani has been running a campaign in Madhya Pradesh since last several years to help Hindu refugees from Pakistan acquire Indian citizenship.

Talking to PTI, Lalwani said, "More than 20,000 Hindu refugees from Pakistan are living in the state and seeking Indian citizenship.

"Of these, around 10,000 are residing in Indore alone. The CAB will pave the way for these refugees to get Indian citizenship.

He said, "With the passage of the CAB in Parliament, exodus of Hindus from Pakistan, especially from Sindh, will intensify as they are facing religious persecution there.

Activists of NGOs working for the cause of Hindu refugees from Pakistan said these people are living in India on the basis of long-term visas or residential permits.

Since the refugees were not being treated as Indian citizens, they were finding it difficult to obtain important documents like Aadhaar, ration card and driving licence, they said.

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