OCIs need nod for Tablighi, journalistic work: Centre
- A home ministry spokesperson said these rules prepared by the Foreigners’ Division were part of a brochure issued on November 15, 2019. The rules were consolidated and notified on Thursday.
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders can’t undertake Tablighi Jamaat, journalism, research or mountaineering activities without special permission from the Centre, according to rules prepared by the Union home ministry.
A home ministry spokesperson said these rules prepared by the Foreigners’ Division were part of a brochure issued on November 15, 2019. The rules were consolidated and notified on Thursday.
The OCI cardholders, including PIO cardholders, are foreign nationals holding the passport of another country and are not citizens of India.
According to the notification, starting from March 4, OCI cardholders are “entitled to multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India for any purpose provided that they will have to take a special permission or a Special Permit from the competent authority or the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer or the Indian mission concerned for undertaking any research; any Missionary or Tabligh or Mountaineering or Journalistic activities; internship in any foreign diplomatic missions or foreign government organisations or to take up employment in any foreign diplomatic missions here; or to visit any place which falls within protected or restricted or prohibited areas as notified by the Central government”.
There was a crackdown on activists of the Tablighi Jamaat – an organisation that works to exhort Muslims to follow Islam as it was practised during the times of Prophet Mohammed – in March-April 2020 during the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, after one of their gatherings in Delhi turned into a superspreader event.
The notification said OCI cardholders will be exempted from registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer or Foreigners Registration Officer for a stay of any length in India, but they must inform authorities by email whenever there is a change in their permanent residential address and their occupation.
Like NRIs, OCI cardholders can appear for the national entrance tests such as NEET, JEE (Mains) and Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced), or other tests to make them eligible for admission only against any NRI seat or any supernumerary seat, provided the cardholder shall not be eligible for admission against any seat reserved exclusively for Indian citizens, the notification said.
They can also purchase and sell immovable properties in India, other than agricultural land or farm houses, and pursue professions such as doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, chartered accountants and pharmacists according to provisions of applicable relevant statutes or laws.
Milan Vaishnav, a South Asia expert with Carnegie Endowment for International Piece, said, “I think the new rules regarding OCI cardholders should be seen in conjunction with the recent leaked GoM report on combating “anti-India” media and popular narratives. By circumscribing the activities of OCIs, the government hopes to exert a tighter grip on the narrative. The irony, however, is that if OCIs are deterred from writing or researching about India, the narrative will be defined by those who are even more far-removed from the realities on the ground.” He does not have an OCI card yet but is in the process of applying for one.