According to multiple reports, more than 260 writers, journalists, artists and activists, in a written statement released by PEN America have urged the government to review its decision to revoke writer and journalist Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India card (OIC).
In the written statement, over 260 signatories — including names like Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Amitav Ghosh, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and many more urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review his administration's action. They also alleged that the government was retaliating against Taseer for his critical coverage of Modi during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in TIME magazine's cover story, which described the BJP supremo as India's "divider in chief".
“We are extremely concerned that Taseer appears to have been targeted for an extremely personal form of retaliation due to his writing and reporting that has been critical of the Indian government," the statement said.
The appeal also said that denying foreign and Indian-origin writers "casts a chill on public discourse". The statement said this was against India's traditions of "free and open debate" and it "weakens its (India's) credentials as a strong and thriving democracy".
British-born writer Taseer's OIC being withdrawn has been making headlines for the past few weeks ever since the government cancelled his Indian citizenship claiming that Taseer was ineligible to hold an OCI card as he had allegedly concealed the fact that his father was of Pakistani origin. As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, as the OCI card is not issued to any person whose parents or grandparents are Pakistanis and he hid this fact.
As per the Citizenship Act, if the registration as an OCI Cardholder was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact, the registration as OCI cardholder shall be cancelled. The person will also be blacklisted thereby banning his or her future entry into India.
The home ministry spokesperson said Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objection regarding his Person of India Origin/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice, a claim with Taseer has rejected as untrue.
The spokesperson also denied that the government had been considering revoking Taseer's OCI card after for the TIME magazine article in which, saying the news was a "complete misrepresentation and is devoid of any facts".
Reacting to the home ministry statement, Taseer wrote on Twitter that he was not given 21 days to reply to the home ministry notice but just 24 hours.
"This is untrue. Here is the Consul General's acknowledgement of my reply. I was given not the full 21 days, but rather 24 hours to reply. I've heard nothing from the ministry since," he said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2019 10:16:40 IST