Clarifying the reason for revoking New York-based journalist Aatish Ali Taseer's Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, the Home Ministry stated that Taseer while submitting his Person of Indian origin (PIO) application had concealed his father's Pakistani origin. What is an OCI card and how to apply for it?
"Mr. Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice", the Home Ministry said in its statement on November 7 night.
According to a report in ThePrint, Taseer had been in the government's crosshairs ever since he wrote an article for Time magazine titled "Divider-in-Chief" and criticised Narendra Modi's first term as the prime minister. However, Mr. Aatish Taseer and his father had been mostly estranged as was recorded in Mr. Aatish Taseer's autobiographical work Stranger to History: A son's journey that was published in 2007. He put out a part of his email exchange with the Indian consul general in NY on social media.
Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard after he spoke in favour of leniency for Asia Bibi - a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy and recently acquitted by the Supreme Court.
As per the Citizenship Act, if the registration as an OCI card holder was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact, the registration as OCI card holder shall be cancelled.
The Indian government must cease making threats to revoke the overseas citizenship of journalist Aatish Taseer, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. "Now, I may not even be able to obtain a standard tourist visa for India, the Consul General in NY informed me by telephone in September, as I have been accused of defrauding the government", he wrote.
In his reply on September 6 to the August 13 notice, and a subsequent notice dated September 3, Mr. Aatish Taseer had explained that his parents had never been legally married, and his mother was his sole legal guardian. He said that he does not have Pakistani citizenship, and said he believes he is being targeted for his criticism of the Modi government.
"An example is being made of me", Taseer said in an interview.
Not only did he immediately take to Twitter to refute the MHA's claim that he had hidden this widely known information, through his writings across the years Taseer has done very little to hide the fact that his father is Pakistani. "But it is hard not to feel, given the timing, that I was being punished for what I had written", Taseer wrote. "And, his right to live here was never questioned until he wrote an article that the Home Minister did not like", Ms Singh tweeted on Friday morning.
Under the rules, Aatish Taseer could be banned from entering India after this.
This "very basic" requirement, the home ministry tweeted, was disclosure of the fact that Taseer's father is Pakistani. "All critical voices are snooped on, harassed or muzzled".