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Family of Sikh refugees in Amritsar says told to go to Afghanistan to get documents for visa extension

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar
| Amritsar |

Printed: July 28, 2020 4:34:17 pm


Surbir Singh at his store, in Amritsar on Monday. (The Press Reporter picture by Rana Simranjit Singh)

It was in 1992 that Sardar Singh fled Afghanistan together with his spouse and three youngsters on account of alleged spiritual persecution. In years that adopted, he made Amritsar his house. His fourth youngster, Arvinder Singh, was born right here in 1994. Whereas Sardar Singh died in 2015 as an Afghan refugee, his household has continued to remain in India on a visa extension that they get renewed yearly. However this 12 months, they’ve been requested to obtain further paperwork from Afghanistan for the visa extension to be processed.

Arvinder Singh (26), who has been tenting Delhi to get the household’s software processed, mentioned that first they have been orally advised by the Foreigner Regional Registration Workplace (FRRO) in Amritsar to get his father’s 28-year-old passport renewed. The Afghan embassy in Delhi, he added, later advised them that the passport can solely be renewed with assist of paperwork that may solely be organized by visiting Afghanistan. In line with him, the passport in his deceased father’s title was the one official doc that the household introduced with them and it recorded the names of his mom, and his three siblings born earlier than him. To date, id playing cards offered to all of them by the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees had proved sufficient to get visa extensions 12 months after 12 months.

“My mother and father and their three youngsters had come to India on single passport to take refuge in India. Yearly, we’ve got to maneuver from pillar to submit to get visa extension for an additional 12 months as refugees. However this 12 months, we’ve got been advised to resume my father’s passport. It’s 28-year-old doc. We by no means renewed that passport. We had id playing cards of United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. We might get a 12 months’s extension on these playing cards. However now we’ve got been advised to resume the passport to get an extension,” mentioned Arvinder Singh.

Nevertheless, FRRO officers in Amritsar refused to substantiate to The Indian The Press Reporter that any such demand had been made. “We aren’t even obliged to present data underneath RTI,” mentioned high official at FRRO Amritsar, whereas refusing to share any particulars.

However Arvinder, who approached the Afghan Embassy in Delhi for renewal of the passport, mentioned: “I reached Afghan Embassy to resume passport the place Afghan officers advised me that I have to go to Afghanistan to get some official papers on the idea of which passport might be renewed. It’s an unattainable demand. Our visa extension has already expired. We’re within the lurch,” mentioned Arvinder.

Passport of Sardar Singh, father of Surbir and Arvinder Singh

He added: “We have been very comfortable after Citizenship Modification Act was handed final 12 months. We thought that it will finish our struggling. My father died in hope of getting everlasting citizenship of India. We thought no less than we might get it. However nothing occurred after that. The truth is, our struggling has doubled this 12 months and there was no speedy resolution in sight.”

BJP-led union authorities had handed CAA in December 2019. Nevertheless, Congress authorities in Punjab had handed decision towards CAA in January this 12 months.

Amritsar district administration officers mentioned they haven’t obtained any notification from state or central authorities for the implementation of the CAA.

The district has a number of Hindu and Sikh refugees, who’ve come from Pakistan and Afghanistan alleging spiritual prosecutions.

“We haven’t obtained any notification associated to CAA from Centre or state authorities. Proper now we’ve got been processing requests for everlasting citizenship of India in keeping with the previous provision accessible within the legislation,” mentioned Himanshu Aggarwal, Further Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar.

Arvinder’s elder brother, Surber Singh, mentioned, “There are round seven Afghan households in Amritsar and 30 Pakistani Sikh households. All of us had utilized underneath the previous provision in legislation to get citizenship. However that was like an unattainable legislation. Below previous legislation, we have been capable of apply for citizenship solely after 11 years of residing as refugees. Then there was lengthy course of to use for citizenship. I don’t know anybody who bought citizenship underneath previous legislation.”

Suber, who runs a tyre restore shot, added: “We have been on the mercy of bureaucrats. They will make any demand. This 12 months we’ve got been requested to resume an previous passport. We’re drained residing as refugees. We will’t purchase property right here with out citizenship. We had some good mates and family members who helped us to outlive all these years. However there’s uncertainty in our lives.”

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