The Prime Minister's Office has now scrapped a 32-year-old list that barred 212 Sikhs residing abroad from entering India, reported Economic Times.
The report cited government officials as saying that a committee headed by an additional secretary of the home ministry had examined the blacklist, and about 212 cases of a total of 324 were removed.
A move strategically made ahead of Punjab polls, the delisting followed soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visits to the UK and Canada in the past year where several Sikh NRI groups had sought prime minister's attention into reconsidering the travel ban.
What is this list?
After Operation Bluestar in 1984 and Kanishka bombings in 1985, the then incumbent Congress government had blacklisted certain Sikh families who had protested the Army action at the Golden Temple or were allegedly involved in ‘anti-national’ activities. These families had then sought asylum abroad mostly in the United States, UK and Canada.
According to this report by The Indian Express, the blacklist is being maintained by the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs and not made available in public domain.
The report reveals that it was only after the leaders in Punjab started receiving complaints from Sikhs abroad, in the early 1990s, about being denied entry into India, the existence of the blacklist became known.
However, this report by The Tribune on 30 March mentioned 21 names which were delisted and the mentioned people thereon could avail access to India.
The list included names of Ripudaman Singh Malik, accused (and later acquitted) in the Kanishka bombing in 1985; Resham Singh Babbar, accused of being one of the conspirators in former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case; Massa Singh, an aide of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale; Satbir Singh Bhullar; Satnam Singh Johl; Gian Singh Sandhu; Daljit Singh Sekhon; Mokham Singh Bagria; Parshottam Singh Pamma; Gurwinder Singh Rana (associated with AISSF); Gurmeet Singh Aulakh; Prof Uday Singh, Parminder Singh Bal, Raghbir Singh Johar and Amrik Singh Gill and Bhupinder Singh Johal.
Top government sources were quoted in this report as saying that the motive of delisting is to make them pledge their allegiance to the Indian Constitution. However, with the Assembly elections round the corner, the move could definitely help the BJP-led government to gain ground in Punjab and ensure NRI vote bank.