312 Indian-origin Sikhs removed from adverse list13th September 2019
Move will enable them to apply for Indian visas and visit country
At least 312 Indian-origin Sikhs living in foreign countries have been removed from an “adverse list,” enabling them to apply for Indian visas and visit the country, a senior Ministry of Home Affairs official said on Friday.
“Government of India has reviewed the Adverse List containing 314 foreign nationals belonging to Sikh community and brought it down to just two,” the official said.
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 Indian authorities, acquired foreign nationality and took asylum outside India. 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 in availing visas 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.
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 visas for a period of two years.
“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.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had on several occasions in the past raised the issue with the Centre. He recently met Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.
The move comes ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak in November. India and Pakistan are building a corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur shrine in Pakistan, where Guru Nanak spent his final days.