Introduce temporary measure to address issue of Portuguese citizenship for Goans, Ferreira urges Centre


Introduce temporary measure to address issue of Portuguese citizenship for Goans, Ferreira urges Centre

Panaji: Aldona MLA Adv Carlos Alvares Ferreira has urged the Central government to immediately issue a stopgap measure to protect people who have registered their births in Portugal.

He was speaking on the recent issue of many Goans whose Indian passports are being revoked as they have registered their births in Portugal.

He also urged the Union government to amend the Citizenship Act that will allow people an option to retain either of the citizenship within a certain time-frame.

He was addressing reporters on Monday along with Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Amit Patkar and Congress leader Capt Viriato Fernandes.

Ferreira said that as per the Portuguese citizenship law, those who register their births in the Portugal civil registry acquire Portugal nationality and other benefits. He also said that as per the Indian Constitution, persons voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign state cannot be citizens of India. He also said that a passport is only a travel document.

“The problem has arisen when Goans are going to renew or cancel their Indian passports. As there is a three-year time-frame to surrender, the authorities are revoking the passport instead of cancelling as the deadline has lapsed. Hence, Goans cannot apply for Overseas Citizen Card (OCI) and the visa is also denied. Hence, they cannot travel to India. I believe they should get an extension to surrender their passport. Some may have misplaced the passport, didn’t travel abroad, or forgot about surrendering it. Also, some have suppressed facts and got the Indian passport renewed, but were subsequently caught. There are some persons who held Indian passport but didn’t travel. Some people held the Indian passport for sentimental reasons,” he said.

He highlighted a letter written by then Goa NRI Commissioner Wilfred Misquita to the Centre stating the mere registration of birth in Portugal does not entitle citizenship.
“This was incorrect. Goans were under the wrong impression,” he said.

He urged the Centre to introduce some sort of amnesty in the matter.

“Our Goans don’t want to go abroad, but they go due to circumstances, however, they want to come back. If we keep blocking people from returning and start creating such kinds of situations by which we don’t want them to come back, then they will never come back. We will lose our Goans. We should try to help our brothers and sisters,” he said.

He also pointed out that the issue does not pertain to a certain community.

“It is sometimes a belief that a large number of Catholics have taken a. Portuguese passport. I know for sure a large number of non-Catholics have also taken it. The issue does not belong to one particular community. A lot of youngsters today who are non-Catholics have taken Portuguese passports, which means they have registered their parents’ births first. That does not mean that they should be put out of Goa and of the nation.”

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