Nirupama Subramanian

High Commission processed the application for Indian nationality within a week

ISLAMABAD: A two-year-old boy born in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and whose parents died in the October 2005 earthquake will soon travel to Jammu and Kashmir as an Indian national to live with his grandparents.

"We have accepted Movez Ishaq as an Indian national and we have processed his travel documents," an official at the Indian High Commission here said.

Movez and his five-year-old brother Sudess were pulled out of the rubble in Muzaffarabad after the earthquake but their parents died in the disaster. With their only other immediate family their maternal and paternal grandparents living in Srinagar, relatives stepped in to look after them.

Confusion over nationality

In March this year, the boy's paternal grandfather Abdul Ahad arrived in Pakistan to take both boys with him to India. But he faced an unexpected hurdle in the form of confusion over Movez's nationality.

Movez's father, Mohammed Ishaq, migrated from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad in PoK in 1996. A few years later, he got married to a woman from Srinagar, who also moved to PoK. But unlike her husband she retained her Indian nationality.

While she gave birth to Sudess in Srinagar, Movez, her second boy, was born in Muzaffarabad. In the first few weeks after Mr. Ahad's arrival here three months ago, he approached the Pakistan Government for Movez's travel documents.

Restrictions

The Pakistan authorities allowed Mr. Ahad to take his grandchildren to India. After the earthquake, there are stringent restrictions on the movement of children orphaned in the disaster to prevent unscrupulous people from exploiting the situation. But they advised him to obtain travel documents for Movez from India.

With the entire family living in Srinagar, it made little sense for the boy to claim Pakistani citizenship.

The grandfather applied to the Indian High Commission on May 18 for grant of Indian nationality to Movez through his mother. An official there said the application was processed within a week.

Checks waived

On humanitarian grounds the High Commission waived checks normally carried out to verify nationality, he said.

"We have given the boy an emergency certificate for travel. Now that we have accepted him as our national, he can apply for a proper Indian passport like any other Indian national when he reaches Srinagar," he said.

Movez, Suddess and their grandfather now hope to travel to Srinagar as early as next week.