Updated: December 29, 2009 08:30 IST

Govt unlikely to change new tourist visa rules

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FIXING LOOPHOLES: Tahawwur Rana, a suspect in the 26/11 terror attack is believed to have hoodwinked the Indian consulate. India is now tightening it tourist visa system. File photo
PTI FIXING LOOPHOLES: Tahawwur Rana, a suspect in the 26/11 terror attack is believed to have hoodwinked the Indian consulate. India is now tightening it tourist visa system. File photo

Visa authorities are irked by Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's controvercial tweet on India's revised tourist visa rules. The officials have maintained that the new rules will not change, even in the face of reservations from the US or UK.

Unfazed by reservations from nations like the US and UK, the Government appears to be in no mood to relent on the new visa rules for tourists, saying it would not like to compromise with the country’s security interests.

Citing the changes made by several countries like America and Britain after terror strikes, senior officials argue that it should be left to the Home Ministry to chalk out the plans for securing the nation.

They maintained that while no complaints have been received form the US or the UK after the new visa rules were implemented, clarifications have been sought by Washington and they have been addressed.

“When some foreign missions based in India sought clarity, we told them that if someone has to worry about tourists’ arrival, it is India which has to worry and not any other nation,” officials said on the condition of anonymity.

As per the new visa rules, no tourist, having a travel document valid for 180 days, would be allowed to return to the country before a cooling-off period of two months.

The new visa guidelines have been formulated after considering all relevant aspects and giving the security of the nation the top most priority, the officials said.

The comments also come a day after Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor questioned the tightening of visa rules against the backdrop of the David Headley case and wryly said “26/11 killers had no visas.”

The Home Ministry also cited an example where the girl friend of American terror suspect David Headley befriended a US couple in Manali.

During the probe conducted by the National Investigation Agency, the American couple was spotted in Goa and it was found that they were living in India on a tourist visa for last nine years.

“The man has been doing everything - setting up business, running a massage parlour, tourist centre etc. We don’t want that kind of a tourist,” the officials said and questioned why there was no murmur after the US tightened its visa rules after the September 2001 terror attack.

“We have every right to protect our own interests,” they said.

Pointing out that the new rules would not affect any other category except the tourist visa, the government argues that no genuine tourist would like to come to India within two months after staying for 180 days.

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