NEW DELHI: The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status of writer and journalist Aatish Taseer has been revoked for allegedly ‘failing’ to disclose information that his father was a Pakistani.
The 38-year-old writer is the son of late liberal Pakistani politician Salman Taseer and Indian columnist Tavleen Singh.
Salman Taseer was a also lawyer who was gunned down by his own bodyguard for defending a blasphemy accused in court.
A statement by the home ministry said Taseer becomes “ineligible” to hold the status, as per the Citizenship Act, 1955, as the OCI card is not issued to any person who had “concealed the fact that his parents or grandparents was of Pakistani origin” and he hid this fact in his application.
The MHA said in an official statement that “Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice. ”
This is untrue
The British-born writer, however, has countered the government saying that he was not given 21 days to reply to the ministry notice but just 24 hours.
Attaching an alleged acknowledgement from Indian authorities, he tweeted:
“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,” he wrote on Twitter.
Called Modi “Divider-in-Chief”
Taseer claims the decision comes months after the New York-based writer had written the cover story for the Time Magazine in May, which called PM Modi “Divider-in-Chief.”
His article was published on May 20, just before the results of the Lok Sabha election and shince then he has been in the government’s crosshairs.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) however, denied that the government’s action was linked to an article saying the news was a “complete misrepresentation and is devoid of any facts”.
Decision criticised in both India & overseas
The decision to cancel his citizenship status has invited criticism not only in the country but also overseas.
The Committee to Protect Journalists released a statement saying the decision to target a journalist’s OCI status showed that ruling saffron party was “intolerant of criticism and freedom of the press”.