Panaji: In what could bring a major relief to thousands of Goans facing dual citizenship issue, the Portuguese Government today said people born in Goa before 1961 are not their citizens unless they apply for it and that merely registering birth in their country or having a passport does not make an individual their citizen.
The statement by the Consul General of Portugal in Goa came on the sidelines of an order issued by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today to find a lasting solution to the issue of dual citizenship being faced by nearly 50,000 Goans.
"You become the Portuguese citizen when you have an identity card. Passport is just a document that allows you to travel to Portugal. None from Goa born before 1961 (when the state was liberated from Portuguese rule) becomes Portuguese citizen, unless he applies for it," Consul General of Portugal in Goa Dr Rui Carvalho Baceira told reporters here.
State Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today left for New Delhi to address the issue of dual citizenship affecting nearly 50,000 Goans born during the Portuguese rule.
The chief minister had said that the Centre will have to amend the order of 1962 which will negate the order issued by Portugal in 1975 making all the people born before 1961 in Goa as their citizens.
Baceira said that the current issue of dual citizenship has "nothing to do with Portugal." "I am not aware about any communication from Goa or India to my embassy on this issue," the envoy said. "If people want to acquire Portuguese citizenship, we are entitled to give them if they qualify. We don't make people
our citizen en masse through any order," he clarified.
Many people in Goa have registered their names in the Portuguese birth registry, a facility they were offered by Portugal as citizens of their erstwhile colony, to get access to the European Union in pursuit of better career and economic prospects.
Baceira said, "People can apply to be Portuguese citizen. Those who were born in Goa before 1961 are not Portuguese at all. Only few persons get entitled for citizenship among many people who apply for the Portugues citizenship," he said.
Baceira added that everyone born before 1961 in Goa is entitled to apply for citizenship but they have to follow several procedures.
The Goa government had in the past unsuccessfully written to the Central government asking it to take up the issue of dual citizenship with Portuguese, requesting the latter to delete the clause in Portuguese law which confers citizenship to those born in Goa before Liberation.