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Bihar-born Pakistani national caught in citizenship limbo

By Alok Mohit and Neeraj Kumar

Patna: Bihar-born Syed Naqvi, who later became a Pakistani national, is facing a major dilemma after the Patna High Court ordered his release from detention and waived the remainder of his sentence. Despite being his adopted country, Pakistan refuses to accept him, and he cannot stay in Bihar’s Arwal district due to his lack of Indian citizenship.

Naqvi was arrested in 2016 and was shifted from Arwal to Tihar Jail in New Delhi, and then to the Jehanabad detention centre. A division bench of Justice PB Bajanthri and Justice Alok Kumar Pandey ordered Naqvi’s release while hearing a petition filed by his wife.

According to Naqvi’s lawyer, Amit Narayan, the high court order was based on a 2022 Supreme Court ruling in the Ana Parveen case.

Naqvi, who was born in Arwal, about 69 km south of Bihar’s capital Patna, was taken to Pakistan by his (maternal) grandmother in 1982-83 to look after her. He later acquired Pakistani citizenship. In 2012, Naqvi returned to Arwal on a six-month visa after receiving news of his father’s illness. When his father’s condition did not improve, Naqvi overstayed his visa and was subsequently arrested by the police on suspicion of being a trained agent from Pakistan, a claim that was later proven false.

Narayan stated that Naqvi has been languishing in the Jehanabad detention centre since 2017. A habeas corpus petition challenging his detention was later filed in the high court. When the Indian ministry of external affairs contacted the Pakistani government, they claimed that the address provided by Naqvi could not be located.

During the legal battle, Naqvi married an Indian Muslim woman.

The Bihar government submitted an affidavit to the high court stating that Naqvi posed no threat to the country’s security and that a decision on his citizenship could be made by the Union government. Naqvi’s unique situation – rejected by Pakistan and not yet granted Indian citizenship – formed the basis of his petition.


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