Adnan Sami, a Pakistani singer who came to India nearly 15 years ago, is now formally an Indian citizen. The singer had appealed to the Indian government to legalize his status on humanitarian grounds.
Sami received a citizenship certificate from Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijju, in New Delhi on Friday. The elated singer tweeted this message:
The singer said he was very happy after being given the Indian citizenship. "I am grateful to the government of India for giving me this beautiful gift," he told the Press Trust of India (PTI). Sami also tweeted a thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sami said there were mixed reactions in Pakistan to the new development, but that his family understood his love for India and its people. Sami had applied to the Indian Home Ministry on May 26, 2015, with a request that he be allowed to stay in the country on humanitarian grounds, officials told the media.
'Love thy neighbor'
Rebutting concerns about rising intolerance in India and complaints by prominent film stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, the 46-year-old celebrity said everyone was entitled to his or her own opinion. "Had there been intolerance, I would not have taken Indian citizenship. I have never experienced intolerance. There is no intolerance in India," he said.
Sami also lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's spontaneous trip to Pakistan's eastern city Lahore last week and said he was pleased with Modi's attempts to improve ties between the two nations. "I personally believe in the philosophy of 'Love thy neighbor'," he said.
The popular singer came to India in early 2001 on a visitor's visa, valid for one year. The document was subsequently renewed. His Pakistani passport expired in May this year but was not renewed by the government in Islamabad, PTI reported. The singer then approached the government of India to legalize his stay in the country.
Adnan Sami made a mark for himself in the Indian music scene 15 years ago with his extremely chubby appearance at that time and a knack for modern melodies.
An intensive weight loss program also witnessed Sami slide down the popularity charts, but the singer recently tasted success with a song in a film on Indo-Pakistan friendship, called "Bajrangi Bhaijaan."