The year 2022 will be a landmark year for 1,032 Pakistani Hindus, who will get to vote in the Gujarat Assembly elections as Indian citizens. These are the people who have migrated to Gujarat and were granted Indian citizenship by the Ahmedabad collectorate in the last five years.
According to the 2016 and 2018 gazettes, the collectorates of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, and Bhuj have been empowered to issue Indian citizenship documents to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and Parsis from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who sought refuge in Gujarat after receiving approval from Central and the state intelligence agencies.
On August 22, state Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi handed over Indian citizenship certificates to 40 Hindu refugees from Pakistan at the Ahmedabad collectorate.
Dilip Maheshwari, 36, was born in Pakistan’s Mithi town and is one of the new Indian citizens who will vote for the first time. Maheshwari was among 212 Pakistani Hindu refugees who received Indian citizenship in 2021. This year, his wife Maya too became an Indian citizen.
Maheshwari says he has been attempting to obtain Indian citizenship since 1995. “In 2008, I made my first trip to India on a short-term tourist visa. I was here on a pilgrimage. Since 1995, I’ve been attempting to obtain a long-term visa. When the visa expired in 2008, I went back to Pakistan. I received a long-term visa in 2013 and have been living in Gujarat since then,” he said.
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