Indian-American Journalist and Writer Faces Revocation of Citizenship Document


Mr. Aatish Taseer has come under heavy criticism from members of the ruling BJP, as he had authored an essay in May 2019 for Time magazine that accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of following divisive policies.

The OCI card which allows foreign citizens of Indian origin to work indefinitely and enter India without a visa is given to all nationals except those of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Taseer added that he had been holding Indian citizenship documents - Person of Indian Origin which later merged into Overseas Citizenship of India - since 2000.

"Their relationship occurred when they were both resident in the United Kingdom and Salmaan Taseer stated [accurately] that he was a UK citizen and passport holder", The Hindu quoted Aatish as saying in his reply sent to the Indian Consulate in NY.

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has rejected the accusation linking the move to his political views.

He has tweeted out a picture of an email exchange between himself and the consul general where he has objected to the ministry's claim. I was given not the full 21 days, but rather 24 hours to reply.

This "very basic" requirement, the home ministry tweeted, was disclosure of the fact that Taseer's father is Pakistani.

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Born in Britain, Aatish Taseer wrote on Time's website late Thursday that he lived in India from the age of two with his Indian mother - his sole legal guardian - and had no contact with his father until he was 21.

"Mr Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice".

"Harassing critical writers and journalists not just in India but globally is a disturbing new low for Modi's government that's already put Indian democracy on its heels", said freedom of expression rights group PEN America.

"With my grandmother turning ninety next year - and my mother 70 - the government has cut me off from my country and family", Taseer wrote.

"It is painful to see an official spokesperson of our government making a false claim that is so easily disproved". Is our Govt so weak that it feels threatened by a journalist? the lawmaker from Thiruvananthapuram tweeted.

His father was Salman Taseer, who became a political leader in Pakistan and was assassinated in 2011 after he opposed the country's anti-blasphemy law. As Aatish was born outside India before 10 December 1992, he becomes ineligible to become an Indian citizen as per section 4 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, because his father was Pakistani citizen at the time of his birth in UK.

The Home Ministry said the OCI decision "had nothing to do with the article he wrote for the Time magazine". "Home Minister Amit Shah should immediately withdraw the directive and any attempts to alter Aatish Taseer's overseas citizenship", said Steven Butler, coordinator of CPJ's Asia programme in Washington, DC.