Centre to revoke Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India card

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The Home Ministry claims Mr. Taseer attempted to “conceal information” that his father was of Pakistani origin.

In a dramatic move, the government announced it will revoke the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card to famous author and journalist Aatish Taseer over what it claimed was his attempt to “conceal information” that his father, Salman Taseer, was of Pakistani origin. In an official statement, which Mr. Aatish Taseer denied, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that he had “failed to dispute the notice” it had sent asking him to explain the lapse.

“Mr. Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice,” the Home Ministry said in its statement on November 7 night. “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.

Explained | What is an OCI card and how to apply for it?

In its notice dated August 13, 2019, which The Hindu has accessed, the Home Ministry said that Mr. Aatish Taseer had failed to disclose that his father, the former Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab was of Pakistani origin, and had only provided details of his mother, veteran Indian journalist Tavleen Singh.

In his reply on September 6 to the August 13 notice, and a subsequent notice dated September 3, Mr. Aatish Taseer had explained that his parents had never been legally married, and his mother was his sole legal guardian.

“Their relationship occurred when they were both resident in the United Kingdom and Salman Taseer stated (accurately) that he was a U.K. citizen and passport holder,” Mr. Aatish Taseer said in his reply sent to the Indian Consulate in New York, which was acknowledged by Deputy Consul-General Shatrughna Sinha.

Mr. Aatish Taseer, who grew up in Delhi and studied at the Kodaikanal International school in Tamil Nadu, now lives in New York, and had received a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card in 2000, which was later converted to an OCI card. In his application he had referred to his mother as an Indian national, and his father, Salman Taseer, who was assassinated in Pakistan in 2011, as a “British national”, as to the “best of his knowledge” Salman Taseer held a U.K. Passport. However, Mr. Aatish Taseer and his father had been mostly estranged as was recorded in Mr. Aatish Taseer’s autobiographical work Stranger to History: A son’s journey that was published in 2007.

According to Home Ministry guidelines, one of the grounds on which OCI registration can be cancelled is when it “becomes necessary to do so in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity and security of India”. It could also be cancelled if it is found that the registration as an OCI cardholder was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact or the registered OCI cardholder has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India or comes under any of the provisions of section 7D of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Under such provisions, the registration of such a person will not only be cancelled forthwith but he/she will also be blacklisted preventing his/ her future entry into India,” the guidelines say.

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