Ahead of the Punjab assembly polls early next year, the Union home ministry has removed 225 names from the blacklist of NRI Sikhs who are barred from travelling to India due to their alleged ties with Khalistan movement of the 80s and 90s.
“There were 298 names on the blacklist and the government has slashed their number to 73. After periodic review, 225 names have been removed so far. It’s a continuing process,” a senior government official told HT, pleading anonymity.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to prune the list. His son and state’s deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal too had written a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh in this regard.
A delegation of British Sikhs too had urged Modi for scrapping the blacklist, when he went to London.
The Khalistan movement was launched in the late 80s seeking a separate state for Sikhs and it turned violent resulting in killing of thousands of innocent civilians, security personnel and militants.
“The process of pruning down the list picked up pace following instructions from the PM. Names of individuals keep on getting added or deleted after a reference from the intelligence agencies,” said the official.
At the moment, around 38,000 names figure in the blacklist, a classified document that is maintained in Indian high commissions and embassies all across the world. The list has names of those individuals who are suspected to have links with terrorist outfits, violated visa norms in their previous visit to India, indulged in criminal activities or those accused of sexual crimes against children in their respective countries.