Gurdaspur (Punjab), March 9 (IANS) It was one moment that they had endlessly waited for. And on Wednesday, three women from Pakistan took the oath in this north Punjab town, owing allegiance to the Constitution of India and fulfilling all duties as a citizen of India, bringing an end to an agonising wait.
Tahira Zahoor, Mubina Kanwal and Arifa Hameed — all from Pakistan — are married to men from Qadian town in the frontier district of Gurdaspur, 300 km from Chandigarh. On Wednesday, they saw themselves close to being officially accepted as citizens of India.
Cutting through the officialdom’s objections to their becoming Indian citizens was tedious for them. It took them 10-12 years to get that right.
“In the name of Allah, I swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India as by law established and that I will faithfully observe the laws of India and fulfill my duties as a citizen of India,” Tahira and the other two women, who have ‘Indian’ children, took the oath before Gurdaspur deputy commissioner Prithi Chand to complete the formality of becoming Indian citizens.
While Tahira was married to Maqbool Ahmed in 2000, Mubina Kanwal and Arifa Hameed were also married to grooms from Qadian in 1998 and 2000, respectively.
“We got engaged in 1999, but for three harrowing years we could not even see each other. The Kargil War and subsequent events (parliament attack Dec 2001) made it impossible for commoners to travel across the border,” a visibly happy Maqbool Ahmed said here.
Tahira finally made it to Qadian after she took a bus to Amritsar after tensions between India and Pakistan reduced a little in mid-2003. The couple has three children now.
The union ministry of home affairs (MHA) will now publish the names of all three women as Indian citizens after the district authorities and the police here send the verification report and necessary clearances.
Maqbool said that there were still some women in Qadian who have been waiting for over 25 years to get official status in India even after marrying and living here.