MHA rejects proposal to grant visa-on-arrival to Bangladeshis

Last Updated 23 June 2014, 14:18 IST

The Union Home Ministry has rejected the Ministry of External Affairs's proposal to grant visa-on-arrival facility to Bangladeshi nationals and visa- free entry to citizens of that country under the age of 18 and over the age of 65.

This came after the MEA had asked MHA to give its opinion to include the two issues as part of the tentative agenda of discussions during the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Bangladesh between June 25-27.

"We have outrightly rejected the two proposals. We have already communicated to the MEA our strong objection to the proposals," a Home Ministry official said.

The issue has generated strong reaction in Assam where Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi opposed the move and slammed the Narendra Modi government for toying the idea.

Gogoi's reaction came after the MEA sought the opinion of Assam government, among other stakeholders, on the two issues.

The Home Ministry, however, did not rule out another MEA proposal -- long-term multiple entry tourist visa for Bangladeshis under the age of 18 and over the age of 65.

"This proposal can be considered subject to certain conditions, including appearance of the visa-holder before the Foreigner Regional Registration Office every year," the Home Ministry official said.

Currently, Bangladeshis get multiple-entry visa for one year and the proposal is to extend the facility up to five years.

During the visit, Swaraj is likely to meet top Bangladeshi leaders, including President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and discuss a range of issues including relaxation of visa norms.

Swaraj's Dhaka-visit is considered as part of Narendra Modi government's outreach to neighbouring countries as was evident in the invites sent to top SAARC leaders to attend the swearing-in of the Prime Minister on May 26.

The Prime Minister himself had visited Bhutan last week.

Modi had during his campaign for this year's general elections said if BJP comes to power, all illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India will be deported.

(Published 23 June 2014, 14:18 IST)

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