Something amazing happened in the Punjab polls on Saturday. A 35-year-old woman from Pakistan, who is not allowed to cast her vote there as she belongs to a persecuted community, managed to exercise her franchise for the first time in the Punjab elections this time. Tahira Maqbool had got married to a man hailing from Gurdaspur’s Qadian town in 2003 and got her Indian citizenship last year.
Tahira belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, which our neighbouring country considers as non-Islamic, and for that reason they are allowed to vote for a separate 5% electorate of minority communities.
Tahira was born in Pakistan and lived there till the age of 22. During her four years of adulthood, she was under the scanner of the religious community. As a sign of protest, Tahira refused to go for voting there as she is a true Muslim by heart.
Tahira got her Indian citizenship in April 2016, so she grabbed the first opportunity to cast her vote.
On Saturday, she walked into a voting booth and walked out with an indelible ink stain on their finger like any other citizen of the country. This election will decide next the MLA from Qadian.
Casing vote for the first time did give her the inevitable smile and when asked, the mother of three gladly replied, “Polling day has come as Eid for me. After being an Indian citizen, now I am also a proud participant in the Indian democratic system,” while wiping tears of joy, TOI reports.
Hailing from Faisalabad district of Punjab province in Pakistan, Tahira married Qadian’s Chaudhary Maqbool Ahmad on December 7, 2003. “In Pakistan, Ahmadiyyas are not able to cast their vote as Muslims because they are categorized as non-Muslims. But, because I consider myself a Muslim, I did not vote,” she added.
She further mentioned that though she was lucky enough to be able to cast her vote, 12 more Pakistani women who are married to men in Qadian are still in the queue for Indian citizenship. “I have realized the power of the common man for the first time. I am going to take up cases of Pakistani girls who are married here but haven’t got Indian citizenship. I wish they also had a similar experience and felt proud, like I am feeling today,” she said.
Hopefully, her words will inspire many like her.
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