A Pakistani Hindu refugee in a colony in New Delhi’s Majnu ka Tilla has named her newborn child Nagrikta, or citizenship, to mark the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha. On Wednesday afternoon, as the Rajya Sabha discussed the draft law, several such refugees waved the Indian flag and chanted slogans such as “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
“I named her Nagrikta out of happiness,” said 21-year-old Aarti Devi. The child was born at 5 am on Monday. “I feel that something will change if we get citizenship. We have to get it and we will,” she added.
The Bill proposes amendments to a 1955 law to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
A number of Opposition parties have opposed the draft law for making religion a criterion for granting citizenship, and called it unconstitutional. It has also sparked massive protests in the North East. The colony’s Pradhan Sona Das urged “Hindu brothers to not oppose this Bill”.
Aarti Devi used to live in Hyderabad district of Pakistan’s Sindh province. She came to Delhi with her brother around six years back on a pilgrimage visa and stayed back using the long-term visa facility.
Her husband Ishwar Lal, 22, sells mobile phone covers and other accessories on a cart in Rajouri Garden, and earns around Rs 5,000 a month. Even though she possesses an Aadhaar card, Devi said she hopes for better facilities if she gets Indian citizenship. “There are so many water problems here,” she added. “There is barely any electricity and it is unbearable in the summers. I hope these problems are solved.”