Pakistan singer Adnan Sami kicked off the beginning of 2016 on a happy note as his application to the government to legalise his stay in India was approved. On Friday, he was given the certificate of Indian citizenship, which he termed as a "beautiful gift" on new year's day.
Accompanied by his wife Roya, the singer received a citizenship certificate from Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju at North Block in Delhi. The singer who has been living in India since 2001 was given the citizenship under Section 6 of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955.
Sami's earlier request for citizenship was rejected about two years ago. The singer approached the Foreigners’ Division of the home ministry again in March last year with the same request.
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh upon receiving the citizenship.
“My Profound thanks to Honourable Prime Minister @narendramodi ji for approving my Indian Citizenship.A New birth! (sic),” Sami posted on his Twitter account.
“I'm highly indebted to the Honourable HM @BJPRajnathSingh ji for his tremendous support in granting me Indian Citizenship..,” tweeted the 43-year-old singer.
Meanwhile, when he was asked about recent debate on alleged growing level of intolerance in the country, Sami said “there is no intolerance in the country.”
"Had there been intolerance, I would not have taken Indian citizenship. I have never experienced intolerance. There is no intolerance in India," he said.
Asked how he felt after becoming an Indian citizen, Sami said there was no difference as the taste of 'biryanis' was same in both the countries. "And I have had enough of 'biryanis' in both Pakistan and India," he said.
The singer said there was mixed reaction in Pakistan on his taking Indian citizenship but his family understands his love for India and its people.
Sami's two songs from the album, Kabhi To Nazar Milao and Lift Kara De, whose music video starred actor Govinda, were a sensation in the early 2000s.
This year the singer tasted success with his song 'Bhar Do Jholi meri' in Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Sami entered India in 2001 on a visitor's visa with the validity of one year which was issued by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. And since then he has been living on business and professional visa in India by renewing visa time to time.
However, his Pakistani passport which was issued on May 27, 2010 was set to expired on May 26, 2015. And the Pakistan government refused to renew his passport, eventually leading him to approach the Indian government for citizenship on humanitarian grounds.
(With inputs from PTI)