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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

India is my country, says author Aatish Taseer after govt scraps OCI status

The government says the decision to revoke Aatish Taseer’s OCI status was taken because he had “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin”.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2019 12:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindutan Times, New Delhi
Aatish Taseer described his overseas Indian citizenship as a “permanent visa” to travel to India and feared that he would be blacklisted from entering the country to visit his mother and grandmother.
Aatish Taseer described his overseas Indian citizenship as a “permanent visa” to travel to India and feared that he would be blacklisted from entering the country to visit his mother and grandmother.(Raj K Raj / HT File )
         

Aatish Taseer, the New York-based journalist and author whose overseas Indian citizenship was cancelled, has rebutted the charge that he hadn’t responded to the government’s notice. In an article on Time magazine’s website, he linked the government’s move to an article published in the magazine earlier this year that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Taseer also underscored that he was a British citizen by birth but he was an Indian.

“India is my country. The relationship is so instinctive that, like an unwritten constitution, I had never before felt it necessary to articulate it,” Taseer who grew up in Delhi, wrote in the article, “I am Indian. Why is the Government Sending Me Into Exile?”

Overseas citizenship extends to foreign citizens of Indian origin almost all the privileges of a citizen except voting. The facility is popular with the Indian diaspora - over 2 million cards have been issued - primarily because it allows them to stay in India without a visa, no questions asked.

Taseer described it as a “permanent visa” to travel to India and feared that he would be blacklisted from entering the country to visit his mother and grandmother.

The government says the decision to revoke Taseer’s OCI status was taken because he had “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin”. He was issued a notice in September but “he failed to dispute the notice”, tweeted a home ministry spokesperson late on Thursday..

The spokesperson denied that the move follows his Time magazine article, calling attempts to draw a link between the article and the decision “a complete misrepresentation… devoid of any facts”.

Taseer, the son of columnist Tavleen Singh and late Pakistani politician and businessman Salman Taseer, had written the cover story for the magazine in May, which called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Divider-in-Chief.” He had also criticised Modi’s first term as the Prime Minister.

In an emotional piece that sought to underline his roots in India after the decision on his OCI status, Taseer spoke about the campaign that was unleashed against him on social media after he wrote this article and the attempts made to delegitimise his work by emphasising on his father’s nationality, a Pakistani.

“Not only was I not a Pakistani, but my relationship with my father – who was Governor of Punjab in Pakistan when he was assassinated in 2011 – had been complicated,” Taseer wrote.