New York-based author and journalist Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card has been revoked as he had “concealed” the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin, the Indian government said last week. An OCI card allows a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India for an indefinite duration of time.
However, the author has said in a reply that his estranged father was a British passport holder and that his parents had never been legally wed. His mother, columnist and writer Tavleen Singh, is his sole legal guardian, he said.
Aatish is a well-known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, he had written a scathing article in Time magazine, critiquing the failures of the Modi government. The article was titled ‘India’s Divider In Chief’ and had explored the question of whether the world’s largest democracy could endure another five years of a Modi government.
Aatish Taseer is the son of senior journalist Tavleen Singh, an Indian, and late Salman Taseer, a Pakistani businessman and politician. Salman Taseer was assassinated in the year 2011 while he was serving as the Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“Mr. Aatish Ali Taseer, while submitting his PIO application, concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin,” the Union Home Ministry spokesperson tweeted.
“Mr. Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice,” the spokesperson said in another tweet.
“Thus, Aatish Ali Taseer becomes ineligible to hold an OCI card as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. He has clearly not complied with very basic requirements and hidden information,” it added.
Aatish tweeted that he had been given just 24 hours to reply, as opposed to the usual 21 days. Attaching a screenshot of the acknowledgement he received, the journalist also showed that he had, in fact, replied to the government, raising objections to the move. “This is untrue. Here is the Consul General’s acknowledgment 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.” (sic) he wrote.
Committee to Protect journalists criticized the government of India. “Targeting a journalist’s immigration status after the publication of a critical article shows that the @BJP4India is intolerant of criticism and freedom of the press.”
Shashi Throor, a journalist and a Member of the Congress Party said, “It is painful to see an official spokesperson of our government making a false claim that is so easily disproved. It is even more painful that in our democracy such things happen: https://theprint.in/india/govt-considers-revoking-aatish-taseers-oci-card-after-time-article-slammed-modi/316911/ … Is our Govt so weak that it feels threatened by a journalist?”