Indian government threatens to cancel journalist Aatish Taseer’s overseas citizenship

Cheryl Sanders
November 9, 2019

Ministry of Home Affairs has said that writer and journalist Aatish Taseer is ineligible for getting an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card, as he had concealed the fact that his father was of Pakistani origin.

Aatish, a United Kingdom national, is the son of assassinated Pakistan politician Salman Taseer and Indian journalist Tavleen Singh who has supported Modi on nearly all issues, barring economic decisions.

Taseer said he was holding Indian citizenship documents since 2000 and lived in India between the ages of two and 10, and 26 to 35, adding that he has local bank accounts, a biometric identification number and pays taxes.

According to the current laws, Overseas Citizenship of India is an immigration status that allows foreigners of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely.

Taseer has written at length about his estranged relationship with his father in his book Stranger to History, which was published in 2007.

"Aatish's mother has also always been an Indian citizen". Aatish Taseer is the son of senior journalist Tavleen Singh and late Salman Taseer, a Pakistani businessman and politician. "I was living in India at the time, and at no time was my legal status ever questioned or challenged by the government", he wrote Thursday.

Taseer, on the other hand, disputed the claims by the Indian Home Ministry, tweeting that he had responded to their notice.

Taseer said that an Indian diplomat had informed him that he may no longer be able to receive any kind of visa to enter India because of the government's allegations that he engaged in misrepresentation. Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice. "Something about the timing, the headline ("India's Divider in Chief") and the image of Modi sent his supporters into a fury".

Writing for Time magazine in May, Taseer had wondered if India could endure another five years of the Modi government.

PEN America, a New York-based literary and human rights organisation, said Modi government's actions appeared to be retaliation for the TIME magazine article.

"Their relationship occurred when they were both resident in the United Kingdom and Salman Taseer stated (accurately) that he was a U.K. citizen and passport holder", Mr. Aatish Taseer said in his reply sent to the Indian Consulate in NY, which was acknowledged by Deputy Consul-General Shatrughna Sinha.

Opposition leaders have criticised the decision to revoke Mr Taseer's OCI status.

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. "I've heard nothing from the ministry since", he tweeted. All critical voices are either snooped on, harassed or muzzled.

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