No ‘other reason’ for cancellation of the writer’s OCI status.

 

NEW DELHI: It was the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government in July 2000 that had first given the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card to writer Aatish Taseer. The PIO card scheme for foreigners of Indian origin having foreign passport was introduced by the Government of India on 30 March 1999.

In his application that was submitted at the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO), Delhi, Taseer had not mentioned the name of his father, official sources who have accessed his application have told The Sunday Guardian.

Subsequently, when on 9 January 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) withdrew the PIO scheme, all the PIO card holders automatically became Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders. Taseer, 38, is the son of veteran Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani politician Salman Taseer who was assassinated in Islamabad by his own bodyguard in January 2011 for indulging in “blasphemy”.

Informed government sources have told The Sunday Guardian that it was wrong to say that Taseer’s OCI status was canceled for other reasons (read, for writing anti-Narendra Modi articles) rather than merit.

“The PIO application form did not require the applicant to mention the details of both his mother and father. Taseer did not mention his father’s name in the application form when he first applied for PIO status. When it was detected (this year) that his father was a Pakistani national, he was served notice and then the OCI status was canceled. Hundreds of OCIs are canceled every year for different reasons, but Taseer’s case caught media attention because of his family background,” an official said.

As per December 2018 data, there are about 1.31 crore NRIs and 1.78 crore PIOs residing in 208 countries.

Responding to what explained the almost 19-year-old delay in discovering that Taseer had “hidden” information in his PIO application, the official said action was taken as and when the inaccuracies were discovered. “It is wrong to attribute motive to the particular action. This is a bonafide action, something which is taken very regularly,” he said.

The Sunday Guardian reached out to Taseer for his response, but no response was received till the time the story went to press.

Earlier, the MHA, on Thursday, through its spokesperson, took to Twitter to state that Taseer had become ineligible to hold an OCI card as the card cannot be issued to any person whose parents or grandparents are Pakistanis. The MHA stated that Taseer had hidden the fact that his father was a Pakistani national. As per the Citizenship Act, if the OCI cardholder is obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact, the said registration is canceled and the person holding the card is also blacklisted and not allowed future entry into India.

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