Srinagar: At a time when many parts of the country are on the boil over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, a Pakistani woman married to a Jammu and Kashmir resident has been granted Indian citizenship by the government.
The beneficiary is Khatija Parveen who was born in Pakistan and migrated to Jammu and Kashmir after her marriage with Muhammad Taj, a resident of the (now) Union territory’s frontier Poonch district, a few years ago.
Poonch’s deputy commissioner Rahul Yadav said that Khatija has been issued a certificate of registration, granting Indian citizenship, under Section 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 on the basis of her marriage to an Indian citizen.
The couple expressed great happiness and thanked the ministry of home affairs from giving its go ahead to issuing her the document.
This has rekindled hope among hundreds of Pakistani women married to former militants of J&K.
They may make a fresh plea before the authorities to grant them Indian citizenship which has been denied to them, so far, by the government.
Before Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status and split up into two Union territories on August 5 this year, these Pakistani spouses of former militants had organised a series of protest demonstrations in Srinagar demanding that they be either sent back to their native country or granted citizenship of the (erstwhile) state.
Article 35A of the Constitution, which has since been repealed along with Article 370, empowered the J&K legislature to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them.
Also, J&K had its own state-subject law in force since 1927 under which only permanent residents could own land and other immovable properties in the (erstwhile) state.
These Pakistani women had accompanied their husbands to the Valley under the government’s rehabilitation policy.
Under this policy announced by the then Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress coalition government following the consent of the Union home ministry in 2010, around 212 former militants returned to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) through Nepal and other routes between 2010 and 2012.
Though the government had received as many as 1,082 applications from such youth who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) apparently to receive arms training, the government had approved only 219 cases after security clearance. Many of them returned here with their Pakistani or PoK wives and children.
The Pakistani spouses of the former militants claim that they are living in “miserable conditions” in the Valley and have virtually been “imprisoned”.
They say that they were, despite repeated pleas to the authorities concerned, not issued the permanent resident certificates as was promised to them and some of them have been treated like criminals by the law enforcing agencies for no fault of theirs.
Some of the women were divorced by their husbands or eventually widowed during the course of time.
Also, a couple of women committed suicide after being denied permission to return to Pakistan, they said....