\'Nepali-looking\' sisters get provisional pasports but must prove Indian citizenship

Santosh and Heena\'s father has been living in Haryana for 50 years and their sister is an Indian citizen

Chandigarh: The Regional Passport Office in Chandigarh said on Friday that it has asked the Ambala police to check if two sisters from Haryana who were allegedly denied passports for their "Nepali appearance" are indeed Indian citizens.

The sisters, Santosh and Heena, have been issued passports "provisionally" upon a request by the Ambala deputy commissioner (DC), Chandigarh regional passport officer Sibash Kabiraj said.

The sisters were allegedly refused passports with a note on their appications stating "the applicant seems to be Nepali".

However, Kabiraj clarified that passports were not denied to them, but were kept on hold. Officers are under instructions to write ‘Citizenship Questionable’ as a standard comment on official documents rather than make remarks about the "appearance" of an applicant .

The sisters' citizenship is still "questionable", he said, adding,"we have ordered an inquiry to find out whether these girls are Indian citizens or not".

He said, according to the citizenship law, a person born in India between 1950 and 1987 would be regarded as an Indian citizen, irrespective of the citizenship of his or her parents.

“If one is born in India between 1987 and 2004, then one of his or her parents has to be an Indian citizen. (In case of) birth after 2004, the applicant's father or mother needs to be an Indian citizen, and either of them should not be an illegal migrant,” Kabiraj explained.

The officer said as both Santosh and Heena were born after 1987, one of their parents needs to be an Indian citizen. Their family could have roots in Nepal, Kabiraj said.

Bhagat Bahadur, father of the two sisters, has reportedly been living in Ambala for the past 50 years. He has four daughters. One them holds an Indian passport as she was born in 1986.

It was after Haryana home minister Anil Vij's intervention that the process of preparation of Santosh's and Heena's passports started.

Kabiraj said after receiving a request from the DC, "we have issued passports provisionally (to the two sisters)."

The Ambala SSP has been asked to hold a "discreet inquiry to find out whether the two sisters are Indian citizens or not", he said.

The SSP has also been asked to look into “all the facts” like where their parents were born and whether one of their parents is an Indian citizen, the passport officer said.

“I have told the SSP to give the report within one week. If it is found out that both sisters are not Indian citizens, their passports will be revoked,” Kabiraj said.

He said all verification officers in the passport department have been advised to write ‘Citizenship Questionable’ as a standard comment on official documents rather than writing about the appearance of an applicant.

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