Raipur: As many as 51 Hindu families who had migrated from Pakistan several years ago and have been living on the outskirts of the city were on Wednesday granted Indian citizenship.
Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said Chhattisgarh has become the first state in the country to award citizenship after Prime Minister Narendra Modi granted the power to states to do so.
He and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh awarded the certificates of Indian citizenship at a function to mark the 73rd birth anniversary of Sant Gobindram Saheb here at Saddani Darbar.
These families settled down in Saddani Darbar area on the fringes of Raipur several years ago.
"Chhattisagrh has become the first state in the country to grant Indian citizenship to the migrated Hindu families. The state has set an example by taking such an important step," Ahir said on the occasion.
He said only the Union government was empowered to grant citizenship certificates earlier, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi simplified the process in 2015 and entitled state governments with this right.
"After getting the citizenship, you (referring to migrated families) have become citizen of this holy land. Few days back, you have celebrated Diwali festival and now this day is like another Diwali for you," the Union minister said, adding that immediate action will be taken over applications to be received from Chhattisgarh in connection with the citizenship issue.
The process to grant citizenship to Hindu families who migrated from Pakistan and other countries to India and living in different states will be expedited, the minister added.
Speaking on the occasion, Raman Singh extended his wishes to the families and said they will not be termed as refugees now.
"After waiting for so many years, these people have now been felicitated with the honour of citizenship. This is their own country but unfortunately after the partition of this holy land, they had to move to Pakistan.
"Later, they decided to live in India but were wandering for years to get the citizenship. Taking an important initiative in this direction, the prime minister entitled states with power to grant citizenship," the chief minister said.
He promised prompt action on such applications for citizenship from migrants living in Chhattisgarh.
Lok Sabha MP Ramesh Bais and state Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra were also present at the event.