The External Affairs Ministry has laid down a list of conditions for Tibetans seeking an Indian passport. These include leaving their settlements and giving up the privileges they receive from the Central Tibetan Administration, Hindustan Times reported on Monday.

The CTA is the Tibetan government-in-exile based in McLeodganj near Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.

Complying with the ministry’s directives, the Bengaluru Regional Passport Office on June 6 listed four conditions for Tibetans seeking an Indian passport. These include:

  • Cancellation of registration/refugee certificate and identity certificate
  • Vacating designated Tibetan refugee settlements  
  • Giving up CTA benefits
  • Submitting a declaration that s/he does not enjoy any benefits, including subsidies, by holding a registration/refugee certificate

There are around 1.5 lakh Tibetans in India, most of whom live in 35 settlements across the country.

In September 2016, the Delhi High Court had ruled that Tibetans born in India between January 26, 1950, and July 1, 1987, were Indian citizens by birth and should be issued passports under the Citizenship Act. In April 2017, the ministry had directed all regional passport offices to process pending applications of Tibetans refugees born in India between this period.

“Getting a passport may make us homeless. This is like asking a Tibetan to become homeless a second time,” said Lobsang Wangyal, who had filed the petition that was the basis of the High Court order. “We have been asked to leave the home where we were born and have lived our life.”

Wangyal quoted lawyer Simarpal Sawhney and pointed out that the new MEA rules violated the Constitution’s Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) and can be challenged in court. He also noted that that the conditions lacked clarity.