Writer and journalist Aatish Taseer was informed on Thursday night that his Overseas Citizen of India status had been cancelled and that he should turn his OCI card in to the Consulate General of India in New York, where he lives, in 15 days.
A few hours earlier, the Ministry for Home Affairs said in a tweet that Taseer had become “ineligible” to hold the Overseas Citizen of India card because he had “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin” in his application for this status.
Taseer was born after his mother, Indian columnist Tavleen Singh, had a brief relationship with Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, when they both lived in the United Kingdom. They were never married. Aatish Taseer is a British national.
Overseas Citizenship of India is an immigration status that allows foreigners of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely. This status is not available to applicants whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents are Pakistani. Before the OCI scheme was launched in 2005, members of the diaspora could obtain Person of Indian Origin status.
Aatish Taseer obtained Person of Indian Origin status in 2000 and received an OCI card in 2016.
“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. “Thus, Mr Aatish Ali Taseer becomes ineligible to hold an OCI card, as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. He has clearly not complied with very basic requirements and hidden information.”
However, people familiar with the matter said that Salman Taseer was never Aatish Taseer’s legal guardian nor Tavleen Singh’s legal spouse. Salman Taseer was a British citizen when he met Tavleen Singh in the UK, these people said.
In 2011, when Salman Taseer was governor of Pakistani Punjab, he was murdered by his own bodyguard for speaking out against blasphemy laws.
Under the rules, Aatish Taseer could be banned from entering India after this.
However, Taseer in a tweet disputed the Home Ministry’s claim that he had failed to reply to the notice. He said that instead of 21 days, the government gave him merely 24 hours to file a response.
Speculation about Aatish Taseer’s citizenship status had been sparked on Thursday morning after an article in The Print claimed that the government was considering revoking his OCI card in light of an article he had written in Time magazine in May describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India’s “divider in chief”.
But the home ministry had claimed that the article was a “complete misrepresentation and devoid of facts”.
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