Will challenge cancellation of OCI status: Aatish Taseer

Will challenge cancellation of OCI status: Aatish Taseer

‘No govt. has questioned my possession of card in 20 years’

Author Aatish Taseer has accused the government of cancelling his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card “by Twitter”, and asserted that he plans to fight the decision.

“I have had some hesitations given the huge costs and the long delays in a legal battle. But so many people have reached out and told me that if I don’t fight what the government has done, I would be letting them get away with it,” he told The Hindu in an interview over the telephone from New York. “This may be bigger than me,” he added.

After due process: govt.

When asked, government officials said Mr. Taseer’s case had followed “due process”, and his request for a review had been dismissed by the “competent authority”.

Mr. Taseer said he had sent the Union Home Ministry a detailed reply to its notice, both of which were accessed by The Hindu. The Ministry accused him of “concealment of material facts” and “false representation” when he applied for his original Person of Indian Origin (PIO) status in 2000, by not revealing that his biological father, former Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province Salman Taseer, had British and Pakistani citizenship.

“My parents were never married, and their relationship lasted just about until I was born, which was why his name was even on my birth certificate,” Mr. Taseer said when asked about the discrepancy.

“My mother raised me entirely by herself, in India. My father was never involved in my childhood, or in financial maintenance…most importantly, he was never in my life. I wrote about all of this in several books and articles, so my behaviour was not one of concealment. How can the government deny me my link to India for a father I didn’t even know,” asked Mr. Taseer, who first met his father when he was 21 years old and had already received his PIO card.

In 2016, according to government procedures that mandated converting his PIO card to an OCI card, Mr. Taseer then procured his OCI card.

“No government in these 20 years has questioned my possession of the card until now,” he continued, accusing the government of only sending the notice three months after he had written an article criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a charge the government has categorically denied.

Consulate strictures

When asked what worried him most about the cancellation of the OCI status, Mr. Taseer said the Indian Consulate in New York had made it clear that he must submit his card within the next two weeks, and then would be blacklisted and barred from applying for a visa to India ever again.

“India is my reality. It’s what I write about. And I definitely feel targeted personally,” he said.

Your email address will not be published.