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India to revoke Aatish Taseer’s overseas ID

India to revoke Aatish Taseer’s overseas ID

NEW DELHI: The Indian government has announced it would revoke the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card to author and journalist Aatish Taseer over his alleged attempt to “conceal information” that his father, Salmaan Taseer, was of Pakistani origin.

In an official statement, which Aatish denied, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that he had “failed to dispute the notice” it had sent asking him to explain the lapse, The Hindu said on Thursday.

In its notice dated Aug 13, which The Hindu has accessed, the Home Ministry said that Aatish had failed to disclose that his father, the former Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab was of Pakistani origin, and had only provided details of his mother, veteran Indian journalist Tavleen Singh.

In his reply on Sept 6 to the notice, and a subsequent notice dated Sept 3, Aatish had explained that his parents had never been legally married, and his mother was his sole legal guardian.

“Their relationship occurred when they were both resident in the United Kingdom and Salmaan Taseer stated [accurately] that he was a UK citizen and passport holder,” The Hindu quoted Aatish as saying in his reply sent to the Indian Consulate in New York.

Aatish, who grew up in Delhi and studied at the Kodaikanal International school in Tamil Nadu, now lives in New York, and had received a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card in 2000, a facility that provides visa-free travel to India. He later converted it to an OCI card.

In his application he had referred to his mother as an Indian national, and his father, Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated in Pakistan in 2011, as a “British national”, as to the “best of his knowledge” his father held a UK Passport.

The Hindu said Aatish is expected to challenge the government’s move against his OCI card.

Aatish has come under heavy criticism from members of the ruling BJP, as he had authored a piece in May for Time magazine that accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of following divisive policies.

The Home Ministry said the OCI decision “had nothing to do with the article he wrote for the Time magazine”.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2019

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