The Curious Case of a Newborn Without a Nationality
The newborn’s mother is an illegal Pakistani and her father an Indian.
The newborn’s mother is an illegal Pakistani and her father an Indian.(Photo: Erum Gaur/The Quint)

The Curious Case of a Newborn Without a Nationality

Nationality.

That’s the space that was left empty when hospital authorities were filling in details of a newborn girl at Bengaluru’s Vani Vilas Hospital last week. Unlike the other newborns in the hospital, she didn’t become an Indian by birth. In fact, she doesn’t have a nationality as of now.

Sameera Abdul Rehman, 25, a native of Karachi and one of three Pakistanis arrested for staying in India illegally earlier this year, delivered a baby girl last week. As her mother is an illegal Pakistani and her father an Indian, authorities have not been able to figure out her nationality.

Sameera’s husband, Muhammad Shihab, who is from Kerala, had brought her to India illegally along with two of her relatives. After living in Bengaluru for close to a year, they were caught by the police and sent to judicial custody.

Caught in the Rule Books

A clause in the Indian Citizenship Act stands between the newborn girl and her nationality.

The Citizenship Act of 1955 states: “A person born in India on or after 3 December 2004 is considered citizen of India by birth, if both the parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth.”

As her mother is an illegal migrant, the newborn will not be given an Indian citizenship and it is still being deliberated whether she can be considered a Pakistani.

For now, however, she remains a girl without a country.

Can’t Deport Them

Senior officers of the Central Crime Branch, who are investigating the case, said that they had looked at deporting the Pakistani nationals for violating the Foreigner’s Act.

If anyone stays in the country illegally, we can present them before the Foreigners Regional Registration Office and deport them to their own country. But Sameera had a fake Aadhaar card.
Senior officer of the Central Crime Branch
(Photo: Arun Dev)

The Fake Aadhaar Card

If it was not for a fake Aadhaar card Shihab made for his wife, Sameera and her daughter could have been deported to Pakistan directly. However, by making fake documents, the couple violated several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

There are nine cases, including forgery, registered against them under sections of the IPC. As per the law, if cases are registered under the IPC, the accused must remain in the country till their trial is over. Even if that person is an illegal immigrant, they can’t be deported until the trial ends.

The Story of Sameera and Shihab

During interrogation, Shihab and Sameera told police that they met each other in 2012 when they were working in Oman. Sameera’s mother had passed away, while her father, who had remarried, was not in touch with her.

Sameera found solace in Shahib and they got married three years later.

Sameera was pregnant with her first child when her estranged father came to Oman upon learning about his daughter’s marriage to an Indian. She was taken back to Karachi and was kept under house arrest. 

During this period, Sameera had a miscarriage, she told the Bengaluru Police.

With the help of Sameera’s cousin Kirhon and her fiancée Khasif, Shihab made plans to take her out of Karachi. Realising that her father would find them in Oman again, Shihab decided to take Sameera to India.

Kirhon and Khasif, who faced opposition from their families to their marriage, tagged along.

‘Medicine Needs No Nationality’

Speaking about the delivery, doctors at Victoria Hospital said that they do not need the nationality of the person to provide treatment.

“From our end, we have delivered the baby. Our formalities don’t require her name or nationality. For us, she is healthy newborn girl born in our hospital. The law will take its course, but we have done our job,” said S Sachidanand, dean of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, under which the hospital is run.

Trial Awaited

The trail of the three Pakistanis is yet to begin. According to police, the jail authorities will find facilities to accommodate the child as the trial progresses.

They added that if not in prison, the child could be accommodated at the Child Welfare Committee Home.

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