New Delhi: There is no intolerance in India, says Pakistan-born singer Adnan Sami after becoming an Indian citizen on Friday.
A smiling Sami also sang his famous song - "Teri oonchi shaan hai maula...Mujhko bhi to lift kara de"- after he received a citizenship certificate from Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju at North Block here in the presence of his wife Roya.
Asked about concerns expressed by actors Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan about alleged growing intolerance in India, the 46-year-old singer said everyone was entitled to his or her own opinion and their remarks were perhaps based on their own experience.
"Had there been intolerance, I would not have taken Indian citizenship. I have never experienced intolerance. There is no intolerance in India," he said. The singer said he was very happy after becoming Indian citizen and grateful to the government.
"I am grateful to the government of India for giving me this beautiful gift," he said. Asked how he felt after becoming an Indian citizen, Sami said there was no difference as the taste of 'biryanis' was same in both the countries. "And I have had enough of 'biryanis' in both Pakistan and India," he said. The singer said there was mixed reaction in Pakistan on his taking Indian citizenship but his family understands his love for India and its people.
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Lahore, Sami said he was very happy that Modi had visited Pakistan and was making efforts to improve relations with the country.
"I personally believe in the philosophy of 'love thy neighbour'," he said.
Home Ministry officials said Sami has been given Indian citizenship following his request to the Centre to legalise his status in the country on humanitarian grounds.
The singer, who has made India his home for the past few years, had made a representation to the Home Ministry on May 26 this year requesting that he be allowed to stay in India on humanitarian grounds.
Sami had first arrived in India on March 13, 2001 on a visitor's visa with the validity of one year which was issued by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
His visa was extended from time to time. His Pakistani passport issued on May 27, 2010 expired on May 26, 2015 and his passport was not renewed by the Pakistan government which led him to approach the Indian government with the request to legalise his stay in India.
Sami's two songs from the album, 'Kabhi To Nazar Milao' and 'Lift Kara De', whose music video starred actor Govinda, were a sensation in the early 2000s.
This year the singer tasted success with his song 'Bhar Do Jholi meri' in Salman Khan-starrer 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'.
Shortly after receiving the certificate of Indian citizenship, Sami tweeted: "A New Beginning... A New Feeling... A New Belonging... A New Love Affair... A New Country... JAI HIND!!!"
"My Profound thanks to Honourable Prime Minister @narendramodi ji for approving my Indian Citizenship. A New birth!”
"I'm highly indebted to the Honourable HM @BJPRajnathSingh ji for his tremendous support in granting me Indian Citizenship," he tweeted.
Later, the Home Ministry said in a statement that Sami was given certificate of naturalisation by Rijiju.
It said that the Rawalpindi-born singer had applied for the certificate of naturalisation and has satisfied the government that the conditions laid down in the Citizenship Act, 1955 for grant of naturalisation are fulfilled in his case.
His request for citizenship was approved by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday.
"In pursuance of the powers conferred by the Citizenship Act, upon taking the oath of allegiance within the time and in the manner required by the rules made in that behalf, he shall, subject to the provisions of the said Act, be entitled to all political and other rights, powers and privileges, and be subject to all obligations, duties and liabilities to which an Indian citizen is entitled or subject, and have right to all intents and purposes and the status of an Indian citizen," the Home Ministry statement said.