Illustrative image: Indian youth and first time voters pose as they show their fingers with ink mark after casting vote near a polling station during the sixth phase of the Indian General elections in Mumbai, India. Image Credit: EPA

Jaipur: At a time when debates on the Citizenship Act and the National Population Register (NPR) rages on in India, a Pakistan-born Neeta Kanwar is contesting panchayat (village council) elections being held on Thursday at Tonk in Rajasthan.

Neeta received her citizenship in September last year after coming to India in 2001 to pursue her education. She received Indian citizenship after living in the country for 18 years and is now contesting sarpanch election from Natwara gram panchayat which falls under Tonk district.

According to Neeta, her father-in law Thakur Laxman Karan, who has been a sarpanch thrice from Natwara has been her source of inspiration. "I was given my citizenship in September last year. Now, my father-in-law is guiding me to contest these polls," she said.

Neeta came to India with her sister Anjana Sodha from Mirpur Khas, Sindh, some 19 years ago.

She got enrolled in Ajmer's Sophia College and completed her BA in 2005 and then got married in 2011. She studied till class XII in Sindh and then came to India.

While she, her sister and mother came to India, her father and brother continue to live in Pakistan and are engaged in farming.

Neeta says she wants to work towards women empowerment, better education and health facilities.

"I decided to contest elections when this seat was reserved for women from general category," she said.