It has been 30 years since 75-year-old Habeeb Unissa Begum returned from Pakistan to India, but is yet to officially become a citizen of India. In an interview to ANI, her brother Toufeeq Ali spoke about her struggles to legally reside in the country.
The 75-year-old Begum was married in 1955 in Hyderabad and moved to Pakistan with her husband. They entered Pakistan illegally through the border. However the better livelihood the couple dreamt of never materialised as job opportunities were hard to come by, making it hard for the young couple.
"My sister then asked her husband to leave Pakistan and return to India, during that time they could not come through the border as it was closed. Later, her husband's brother applied for the Pakistan passport of the couple and they returned to India via ship," Ali said.
"In 1987, we applied for renewal of the Pakistan passport. However, later we submitted it back to the Pakistan Embassy for cancellation and took renunciation letter from them. After that we applied for Indian citizenship and have been waiting since then," he added. She reapplied in 1997, but to no avail.
Ali said he along with his sister Habeeb Unissa, has met officials in Hyderabad, however "they are just giving us stay and not giving Indian citizenship to my sister." "Habeeb Unissa is now 75 years old and her husband and son have expired. She is looking after her two daughters. I would like to request the government to help my sister in getting the Indian citizenship. My sister stayed in Pakistan for just eight months and for that we are struggling till now. She was born here and will die here," Ali added.
[With inputs from ANI]