Govt panned for revoking Aatish Taseer's OCI card

Representative image. (DH photo)

The government on Friday faced criticism for its decision to revoke the Overseas Indian Card (OCI) to writer and Narendra Modi-critic Aatish Taseer, who refuted the claims by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that he did not respond to a notice issued to him.

Taseer, whose mother is a well-known Indian journalist Tavleen Singh, and several others believe that the government move came because of his article in 'Time' on Modi describing him as 'Divider-in-Chief' ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Modi had then referred Taseer as a Pakistani national and said “the writer has also said he comes from a Pakistani political family. That is enough for his credibility."

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The MHA has claimed that Taseer became "ineligible" to hold an OCI card as he "clearly not complied with very basic requirements and hidden information". It had claimed that he did not mention that his father was late Salman Taseer, who was Governor of Punjab in Pakistan. As per rules, those with links to Pakistan and Bangladesh cannot get OCI card, which gives legitimacy to their Indian links but not citizenship.

Soon after the MHA made clear its position, Taseer wrote in 'Time' that he was not a Pakistani and his relationship with his father “had been complicated”.

“Born out of wedlock, I was not in contact with my father until I was twenty-one. I was born in Britain and have British citizenship, but since the age of two I had lived and grown up in India, with my Indian mother, who is a well-known journalist. She had raised me on her own in Delhi and was always my sole legal guardian, and the only parent I knew for most of my life," Taseer wrote.

Separately, Taseer also said he has local bank accounts, an Aadhaar number and paid taxes in India. He also posted on Twitter the screen shot of an acknowledgement email for his response to the MHA notice.

Tavleen tweeted, "Aatish’s mother has also always been an Indian citizen. And, his right to live here was never questioned until he wrote an article that the Home Minister did not like."

As the issue raged into a controversy, several people took to Twitter to pan the government and this included senior Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor.

In a statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said, “targeting a journalist’s immigration status after the publication of a critical article shows that the BJP is intolerant of criticism and freedom of the press, and doesn’t bode well for India’s international reputation.” CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Steven Butler demanded that the government should immediately withdraw the directive and any attempts to alter Taseer’s overseas citizenship.

 

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet that he has often been attacked by Tavleen Singh in her columns but he condemns the Home Ministry's move to revoke her son Aatish Taseer's OCI. "It was, however only to be expected. All critical voices are either snooped on, harassed or muzzled. Kyunki Tanashahi ka doosra naam Amitshahi hai! (The second name of autocracy is Home Minister Amit Shah)," he tweeted.

 

"It is painful to see an official spokesperson of our government making a false claim that is so easily disproved. It is even more painful that in our democracy such things happen...Is our governmentt so weak that it feels threatened by a journalist?" Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said in a tweet. 

Omar Waraich, Amnesty International Deputy Director (South Asia), said questioned how Aatish Taseer concealed the fact even as he wrote a book on his background. 

Kavita Krishnan, CPI(ML) Polit Bureau member also expressed concern over the revoking of Taseer's OCI. 

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