Ahmedabad, Jan 30: More than 400 Hindu families from Pakistan who are living in Gujarat on Thursday attended a camp held by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the district collector's office.
The two-day camp has been organised on demand from those seeking the citizenship. "Around 400 to 450 families participated. The criterion for accepting the citizenship form is that the person must have been living in India for more than seven years. 28 persons who belong to the minority community in Pakistan today filed applications," said resident deputy commissioner MS Gohil.
Two Muslim families from Pakistan also attended the camp seeking citizenship of India. "A large number of people queued up today either to get information about the status of their citizenship applications or to make new applications," he said, adding that no applications for long-term visas were received.
Rajkumar Jesrani, who arrived here from Karachi six years ago, said the Indian government was apathetic to the demand of citizenship. "I am a doctor, I want to work even in rural areas. But the Indian government did not grant me citizenship even after six years, so I can't earn and even serve in India," Jesrani said.
There were around 430 families who wanted the citizenship, but according to a letter by the MHA, only some applications were being considered, Jesrani said, adding that these people had not been given even the status of refugees.
Motiram Khatri, another applicant, said the government was lethargic. "I moved to Ahemdabad in 2009 and started running a mobile-phone shop, but due to some reasons I later shifted to the neighbouring Dahegam. When police learnt about my Pakistani identity, they booked me for illegal activity," he said.
"Had the government granted me the citizenship, I would not have been caught up in the legal tangle," he said. Heena Kanjani, who came to India from Karachi 23 years ago when she was only eight-month-old, said she cannot appear for competitive exams for government service. "I tried to take the Gujarat Public Service Commission exam, but my form was rejected due to my nationality," she said.
Prakash Lokwani, who wants citizenship for four members of his family, said the Hindus in Pakistan were not facing persecution per se as the government there safeguarded their rights, but they wanted to move to India for better economic opportunities.