India government revises policy on Consular Services to Asylees

Asylees will now get visa and OCI cards

Details and certain clarifications are awaited from government of India, said Ambassador Sandeep Chakraborty, Consul General of India in New York

NEW YORK (TIP): In a significant move, India has directed all its missions abroad to abolish local blacklists of asylum-seekers, according to a report published in Times of India.

It is a big relief to Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), mainly Sikhs, who have taken asylum in foreign countries as this will help the asylum-takers get consular services including visa and OCI services at their local Indian missions, as long as they are not on central black list approved by the home ministry. 

Many of the beneficiaries will be asylees hailing from Punjab who had taken asylum in countries like Canada and the US, citing fear of religious pursuit back home during the crackdown on pro-Khalistan movement. They had been facing problems in getting visa and OCI benefits in their respective Indian missions that maintain local black lists comprising names of such asylum-takers in addition to the central black list. 

According to the report, the Modi government, acknowledging the sensitivities of many Sikh asylum-takers and their family members who have not been able to visit their native places or relatives even years after the end of Sikh militancy, has now issued instructions to all missions/posts abroad to abolish local black lists. The missions have been asked to provide all asylees and their family members, whose names do not figure in the central black list, consular services, including visa services and OCI-related benefits. At the same time, it has directed the missions to continue with the usual checks and due diligence in line with the existing orders. 

Sources said the decision reflects the recognition that many of the asylum-seekers were in fact, economic migrants who were forced to pass themselves off as victims of political persecution in order to escape the bleak economic condition then back home. The Indian Panorama reached out to Ambassador Sandeep Chakraborty, Consul General of India in New York, to verify the TOI report who said details and certain clarifications were awaited from government of India. Once, the picture is clear, he said, he will issue a press note. He also indicated he may invite community leaders to inform them of  India  government’s revised policy with regard to providing consular services to the asylees.

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