312 Sikh foreigners removed from post-militancy ‘adverse list’

Union Home Minister Amit Shah meets with Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, in New Delhi, Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah meets with Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, in New Delhi, Tuesday, September 3, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Home Ministry’s list had debarred persons and kin from applying for Indian visa

At least 312 Indian-origin Sikhs living in foreign countries have been removed from a Ministry of Home Affairs “adverse list”, enabling them to apply for Indian visa and visit the country, a senior Ministry official said on Friday. Only two persons from the list have been excluded.

The official said that in future, Sikhs mentioned in the list could eventually apply for registration as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) after they have applied for and held normal visa for a period of two years.

The Congress-led government in Punjab and the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) both claimed credit for the Centre’s move.

Two still on list

“The Government of India has reviewed the ‘adverse list’ containing 314 foreign nationals belonging to the Sikh community and brought it down to just two,” the Home Ministry official said. The two cases where individuals are still on the adverse list pertain to overstaying of visa.

An official explained that in the 1980s, when Sikh militancy was at its peak, many members of the community in India and abroad were influenced by anti-India propaganda.

“Some Sikhs fled India to escape the authorities, acquired foreign nationality and took asylum outside the country. They were placed in the adverse list till 2016, making them ineligible to avail visa services to visit India,” said the official.

The list prepared by the intelligence agencies was available with all Indian missions and it was a major roadblock for persons seeking visa even for their family members who were not on the list.

“This practice has also been discontinued. Consequently, all Indian missions have been advised to grant appropriate visa to all categories of asylees and derivative asylees (family members) whose names do not figure in the Central Adverse List, in line with the procedure followed for other categories of applicants of that nationality,” said the official.

“This review is a continuous and dynamic process and part of a regular exercise. Such a review will afford an opportunity to such Sikh foreign nationals to visit India, meet their family members and reconnect to their roots,” said the official.

312 Sikh foreigners removed from post-militancy ‘adverse list’

Amarinder’s welcome

Responding to the Centre’s decision, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh said his government had worked actively with the Centre for scrapping the list.

“Every Sikh has the right to visit Punjab and Darbar Sahib, including those who had gone astray in the surcharged atmosphere of the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in the wake of the Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots,” he said.

“Conceding the demand and argument of the State government, the Centre has virtually done away with the list that comprised 314 Sikh foreign nationals, with only two names of men not connected with Punjab now left on it. The Central government has also discontinued the practice of maintenance of local adverse lists by the respective Indian missions in various countries,” Capt. Singh said.

Appreciating the Centre’s decision, the Shiromani Akali Dal said the efforts of the party and its president Sukhbir Singh Badal had yielded positive results.

“We welcome the decision. Our party president had taken up the issue with the Centre and we are happy that the demand has been accepted,” said Daljeet Singh Cheema, former Minister and Akali Dal spokesperson. “We request that the names of the remaining two should also be dropped from the list,” he added.

On August 10, 2016, the then home minister Rajnath Singh told the Parliament in a written reply that “government reviewed cases of foreign nationals of Indian origin in the negative list and decided to delete the names of 225 such persons from it.”

This was in response to a question from Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on whether Government maintained any blacklist debarring some persons, who went overseas during operation Blue Star, from visiting Punjab.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 5:16:06 PM |

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