The dual nationality or Portuguese nationality issue has come up once again into the debate with the proclamation made by the Union Home Ministry on Caetano Rosario Silva alias Caitu’s nationality issue. According to the sources, the home ministry of India has given Caitu a lifeline by certifying him as an Indian national. According to the sources, with this new development, the home ministry has opened the proverbial Pandora’s box and given a glimpse of hope to thousands of Goans who had registered their births in Portugal.
Based on the reports, there exists around 27, 000 Goans who are in the possession of ‘Bilhete de Identidade de Cidadao Nacional’, which is supposed to be as good as getting a Portuguese citizenship. According to the sources, all these Goans have registered their birth in Portugal which is based on the option provide by the Portuguese to the Goans in 1974. According to the Portuguese offer, those who have born on or before the liberation of Goa from 451-year colonial Portuguese rule which ended on 19 December 1961 becomes Portuguese national by virtue. Portugal treated Goa, Daman, and Diu as its overseas territory, unlike the British who considered rest of India as its colony.
This rule enabled anyone who was born on or before the liberation in Goa, Daman, and Diu eligible to register their birth as Portuguese national along with their next two generations born in India. According to the sources, Caetano Rosario Silva alias Caitu, who won South Goa’s Benaulim seat in the 2012 state legislative assembly election as a Goa Vikas Party candidate, was born in Portuguese Goa in 1959 and based on the above provision he had registered his birth in Portugal which made him a Portuguese national by virtue.
Following the allegations from the oppositions Caitu was trapped in the legal battle of Dual Citizenship which became the big challenge before him since if it was proved that he is a Portuguese national, he would have lost his right to contest an election in Goa. But Caitu fought the legal battle claiming that everything was done without his knowledge by the agents. According to the sources, Caitu was dragged to the court by Valanka Alemao, daughter of former Goa Chief Minister Churchill Alemao. Valanka, a Congress party nominee, was defeated by Caitu by some 2,000 votes in 2012. This time round, her father Churchill Alemao, decided to challenge Caitu as a nominee of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Meanwhile, the Goa bench of Bombay High Court had asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to clarify the mystery surrounding Caitu’s nationality who had contested the recently held Goa assembly elections from Benaulim as an independent, supported by the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) virtually made a U-turn over the issue as it overturned its earlier pronouncement of 20 November 2013, in which it had termed Caitu as a Portuguese citizen, prompting Churchill Alemao to comment that it was done under pressure of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Valanka had filed the petition soon after her defeat seeking disqualification of Caitu on the grounds that he being a foreign national was not entitled to function as elected representative in India.
According to the reports, thousands of Goans, including politicians, policemen, bureaucrats, and lawyers have registered their birth in Portugal. This enabled them, their children and grandchildren to take the Portuguese passport and work anywhere in Europe. “They were unable to find jobs here. They are helping India earn foreign exchange as they work in Europe and send money to their parents here back home,” said Mario Ferreira, a Goan himself and a Congress party activist.
The new development by the MHA to pronounce that Caitu continues to be an Indian national has given the ray of hope to many Goans like Caitu to claim the Indian nationality without any more hassle. According to the law of land, the Portugal allows dual citizenship, But India does not, and the demand for allowing Goa-specific dual citizenship is gaining ground since there are between 27,000 and 30,000 Goans who registered themselves as Portugal-born for their progeny without leaving the Indian soil, accepting Portuguese passport or citizenship.
According to the sources, besides Caitu, Ticlo Glenn JVA Souza, BJP lawmaker from Aldona constituency, was also facing the threat of disqualification over their alleged registration of Portugal-born Indians. Many Goans have registered their births in Portugal and their children have obtained citizenship or accepted a ‘Bilhete de Identidade de Cidadao Nacional’, which is supposed to be as good as getting a Portuguese citizenship. Many Goans use the ‘Bilhete de Identidade’ to travel across Europe and work, as it makes the Schengen visa redundant. Many have sought employment in Europe on the basis of the Bilhete.
The sources have further said that the BJP had shielded their supporters in politics, Caitu and Glen whose names have flashed in dual nationality, by taking the stand that the Bilhete (Registration of Birth in Portugal) alone is not a proof of Portuguese nationality and that such individuals continue to be Indian citizens. Meanwhile, The Mr. Manohar Parrikar who had served as Goa chief minister of Goa between 2012 and 2014, was lobbying with the home ministry, while the Congress party was in power at the center, as a one-time solution to this dual nationality issue of Goans. India had accorded citizenship to all residents of Goa, Daman, and Diu after their liberation under the Citizenship Act 1955. However, those who in writing had declared then that they wanted to retain their Portuguese nationality were not declared as Indian citizens.
Meanwhile, after getting the clean chit from the centre in dual nationality issue now Caitu is contemplating filing a suit for claiming damages from Valanka Alemao for mental harassment, malicious prosecution and wastage of time that prevented him from executing his role as MLA and working for his constituency all these last five years. Incidentally, among those who have opted for Portuguese passport including the Goa’s famous musician Remo Fernandes, recipient of Padma Shri award in 2007. Fernandes, who lived in his ancestral village Siolim in North Goa, moved to Europe a couple of years back and is said to be looking forward to India granting dual citizenship so that he can continue spreading his brand of music in India and Europe unhindered.