In a first, the Ahmedabad district collector’s office will issues citizenships to 114 Pakistanis who have been residing here for more than seven years. The citizenships will be given away by minister of state (MoS) for women and child welfare Nirmala Wadhwani at the inauguration of the new Sardarnagar police station here on Friday.

   According to the rules, if a person has been residing in India for over seven years and can prove the same, he/she can apply for citizenship. Until now, the power to award citizenship was with the Union government’s ministry of home affairs. Once a district collector received a citizenship application, he would forward it to the local commissioner of police, who would in turn conduct an Intelligence Bureau (IB) check on the applicant. If the IB probe checked out, the application would be forwarded to the state home ministry, which would then send it across to the Union home ministry, who would run another background check through the central IB. If everything panned out, the applicant would receive a letter stating their eligibility was valid. Post this, the person would have to deposit their old passport with their respective high commissioner and inform the local government, which would then issue a citizenship certificate. This entire process took anywhere from a year to three years.

    However, after a representation from the Sindh Minority Migrants’ Association (SMMA), with help from local MP Kirit Solanki, to the central home ministry, the Centre on December 23, 2016, through the official Gazette authorized collectors to issue citizenship after following due procedure.

   Rajesh Maheshwari, president of SMMA, said, “This entire process used to take nearly 2-3 years earlier, whereas now, it takes only 2-3 months. There are nearly 200 applications still pending in Ahmedabad.”

   In 2017, the Ahmedabad district collector received 168 citizenship applications, of which 72 will be given citizenship on Friday, while the remaining 42 are from the 218 files forwarded by the central home ministry.

   Speaking on the same, Ahmedabad district collector Avantika Singh said, “MoS Nirmalaben Wadhwani will give 114 people their citizenship certificates tomorrow (Friday). Home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja and MP Kirit Solanki will also be present at this event.”