Ninety-two refugees, including 47 from Pakistan, who were staying on temporary permits in Thane district for the last several years were granted Indian citizenship on Thursday, officials said. The refugees had applied for the citizenship which was granted by Thane collector and district magistrate Rajesh Narvekar after following the due process mandated in the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 at a special camp held at the office of Thane collector.

Sudam Pardeshi, resident deputy collector, Thane, said the district’s collector is empowered to grant citizenship to applicants as per a December 2016 notification from the Union home department after following all norms prescribed by the Indian Citizenship Act 1955.

“Earlier, the process was a long drawn but it has now been simplified after collectors and district magistrates of a few districts in the country have been empowered to issue citizenship certificates to these refugees after compliance of documents,” Pardeshi said. The applicants are mainly members of minority communities of designated countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. They are mainly Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, among others whose ancestors stayed back in Pakistan and Bangladesh during Partition but their next generation has moved to India in search of better prospects, said an official. These residents have already migrated to India and stay in the country on temporary visas which have to be renewed annually.

Meanwhile, it was a memorable moment for the new citizens, especially the elderly, who couldn’t control their emotions as they accepted their newfound citizenship. Many of the residents said they wanted Indian citizenship citing their safety and the instability in their country which was affecting their livelihood. Others said they wanted better prospects for their future generations. Officials said that 271 refugees have got Indian citizenship in the last four years in Thane district.