Dubai: Two sisters, who were born to an Indo-Pak couple in Dubai, have said that their lives are stuck with no valid documents as the Indian government has not issued them passports, the applications for which were accepted in 2011.
In an email to Gulf News, Mehrose. A, 28, and her sister who is one year younger to her, stated: “Our lives are stuck, we can’t work or live a normal life as we are stateless.” Narrating their story, Mehrose, who wrote the email, said their father is Indian and mother a Pakistani.
She said the family had been living in Dubai for almost 60 years. “My grandfather, grandmother, and father are now dead and buried in Dubai. I have a younger sister and a younger brother, all three of us are born and brought up in Dubai.”
Endorsed in mother’s passport
She said their father died when she was around 15. “When we were younger, we were allowed to be on our mother’s passport. Our father was handling everything when he was alive. After he died, when we finished school we had to make new passports as the rules had changed.” She said the siblings wanted to get Indian passports as their father was from that country.
“Since my two younger siblings and I didn’t have passports, we approached the Indian consulate for Indian passports, but they refused, saying the father didn’t register us within one year of birth. After years of trying and requesting, they told us to bring sworn affidavits from the Pakistani Consulate that we are not applying for Pakistani passports, which we provided.” She said the case was finally accepted in 2011 and all relevant documents and forms were filled.
“The consulate sent them to India. By this time, I turned 19 and my sister was going to be 18-years-old. In India, our relatives were contacted, everything was checked and my brother was issued an Indian passport as he was still under 18. My sister and I were told to fill new forms, as by then we were over 18 years.”
“The Indian Consulate sent the same to India and told us not to come to the consulate and will inform us by email. From 2011 up to now whenever we inquire, the Indian Consulate says they are still waiting for a reply from India.”
Education, marriage affected
“It has been more than nine years now. I’m now 28 and my sister will be 27-years-old. Our lives are stuck. We can’t work or live a normal life as we are stateless.” Speaking over the phone, she said the sisters could not move around freely as they had no valid documents. “Our education has been affected. We can’t get married also.”
During the past visa amnesties in the UAE, she said they had approached the mission and were hoping that their case would be expedited. “If they had issued our passports during the last amnesty, we could have legalised our visa status here.” She claimed that having endorsed their names in their mother’s passport while they were minors did not make them Pakistani citizens.
“So, we did not have to renounce any citizenship. We even got affidavits from Pakistani Consulate as wanted by the Indian Consulate just to register the case as a special case. It clearly states that we have never obtained Pakistani passports and never filed any application for it either.”
“It is very annoying and frustrating. Our father and brother are Indians. Hence we request the Indian authorities to issue us the passports so our lives can move on. We just hope that the government here also allows us to rectify our status. We need a passport for that at the earliest,” she said.
When contacted, the Indian Consulate in Dubai informed Gulf News that the women’s request is still pending with the Ministry of Home Affairs in India which is the nodal authority for granting citizenship.
“We understand it is a complex case and the humanitarian issues involved. However, as per the rules, it is not in our hands as they had already crossed 18 years when the application was accepted. We have sent a couple of reminders and we have made them apprised of the humanitarian aspect. We are yet to receive a response from the MHA. We are sending a fresh reminder to the ministry,” said Neeraj Agrawal, consul for Press, Information and Culture.