Published: Sat, November 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Taseer stripped of OCI card

Taseer stripped of OCI card

The home ministry said Thursday that Aatish Taseer had "concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin" and was therefore ineligible for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI).

In his application he had referred to his mother as an Indian national, and his father, Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated in Pakistan in 2011, as a "British national", as to the "best of his knowledge" his father held a UK Passport.

Aatish, who was initially a supporter of Modi and many of whose views sit comfortably with those associated with Hindutva sympathisers, was born in London and raised singly by his mother in India.

India has stripped a prominent writer of his citizenship status after he wrote an article describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the country's "divider-in-chief".

Millions of people of Indian origin have OCI status, allowing them to travel freely into the country without a visa and stay indefinitely.

In 2009, Taseer published a book about what he called his parents' "brief, passionate" relationship that was widely reviewed in India. "Revoking Aatish Taseer's citizenship document - which would in effect also ban him from visiting his childhood home and seeing his mother and grandmother - is a cruelly personal and vindictive way to punish a journalist for their critical coverage".

Aatish Taseer was born in London on 27 November 1980.

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Contesting the MHA's claims, Taseer shared the screenshot of his email conversation with the US Consul General, which had confirmed acknowledging his response to the notice by the Indian government about his OCI status.

"Harassing critical writers and journalists not just in India but globally is a disturbing new low for Modi's government that's already put Indian democracy on its heels", said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America.

Sources said Mr. Aatish Taseer is expected to challenge the government's move against his OCI card. While the article comments on the Modi wave which engulfed the nation in 2014, he had compared it the political scenario in 2019, highlighting the "heightened differences prevalent in India". "But, yes I will stand up for his rights and mine", she wrote.

In the days following the TIME story, the headline of which - "Divider-in-Chief" - particularly captured the imagination of rightwing Twitter, Taseer has been increasingly active on social media, leading an nearly laconic battle against right-leaning, rightwing, and BJP supporting men and women who often tweet their criticism of him and his Islamic roots.

Opposition leaders have criticised the decision to revoke Mr Taseer's OCI status.

The Union Home Ministry spokesperson tweeted that reports of the move being prompted by the journalist's article in the Time were "a complete misrepresentation and is devoid of any facts".

This "very basic" requirement, the home ministry tweeted, was disclosure of the fact that Taseer's father is Pakistani.

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