NRI Dunia
Think Outside The Box

Centre slashes blacklist of Sikhs barred from travelling to India, reduces it from 314 to 2

A blacklist of Sikh foreign nationals who have been barred from travelling to India for decades has been reduced from 314 to just 2, a senior home ministry official who did not want to be named said on Friday.

The 312 nationals removed from the blacklist, formally called the Central Adverse List, will be “eligible to get Indian visa and the Overseas Indian Card” in due course, the official said.

The decision to whittle down the list was taken after a “review” of threats posed by these people to India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was first reported to have agreed to review the list at a meeting with UK-based Sikhs during a visit to London in 2015 and mandated National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to lead the exercise within the security establishment.

Over the next four years, officials said the list had been progressively pruned but there had been calls to do away with the list that, Sikh groups say, had come to symbolise “the fractious relationship between Sikhs living abroad and the Indian state since the 1984 Operation Bluestar”.

These blacklisted Sikhs have been mostly living in the US and Canada in North America; and the UK, France and Germany in Europe. It has included Sikh community leaders who had promoted the cause of Khalistan, former militants, those connected to the ideology without a criminal record, and those who sought political asylum contending threat to their lives from the Indian authorities.

“This review is a continuous and dynamic process and is a 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, “ the official said.

During the 1980s – when the militant movement for a separate Sikh homeland was at its peak – many Sikh Indian nationals and foreign nationals belonging to Sikh community fell to anti-India propaganda.

Some of them even fled India to escape Indian authorities, became foreign nationals and took asylum outside India. They were placed in the adverse list till 2016, making them ineligible to avail visa services to visit India, “ the official explained.

The blacklisting led to difficulties in providing consular access and visas to not only individuals in the list but their family members as well.

These people will also be eligible to apply for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder after they have held normal visas for at least two years.