An eighty nine year old Spanish Jesuist priest who will be turning 90 next March wants to die as an Indian citizen on Indian soil. This is the story of Fr Federico Sopena Gusi who has been working in India since 1948 and has not succeeded in getting an Indian citizenship after all these years. Although he applied for an Indian citizenship in 1982, all his documents got misplaced, now he is trying again. Fr Sopena visited the Mumbai suburban district collector’s office in Bandra on Thursday to complete the administrative process.
Fr Sopena said, “The great Indian poet, Kabir, had once said that you will be at peace if you have repaid all your loans and die in your own motherland. Since I consider India as my own country for over six decades, I want to become an Indian to be at peace.” The priest is fluent in Hindi and has worked for many years among the poor and downtrodden particularly for the aid of Katkari tribals in Raigad. Vaisahali Patil, a social activist told a leading daily, “I had first met Fr Sopena around 25 years ago, when he was working in Raigad. He had first applied for Indian citizenship in 1982, but all his documents were misplaced. So, he is once again trying, and hopes the home ministry will oblige soon.”Commenting on Fr Sopena’s application, the deputy collector at the Bandra office Jairam Pawar said that the official process is on.
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