Aatish Taseer's OCI card revoked, author says he responded to govt notice

Clay Curtis
November 8, 2019

Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard after he spoke in favour of leniency for Asia Bibi - a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy and recently acquitted by the Supreme Court. Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice. The article also comments on the lack of unity in the Opposition saying, "Modi is lucky to be blessed with so weak an opposition - a ragtag coalition of parties, led by the Congress, with no agenda other than to defeat him". He put out a part of his email exchange with the Indian consul general in NY on social media.

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.

Mr Taseer added that he learnt he had become "ineligible" for the OCI status only through the MHA's tweets.

"Then, on November 7, after The Print reported that my status was under review, the government announced via Twitter that my OCI status had been withdrawn".

Writing for Time magazine in May, Taseer had wondered if India could endure another five years of the Modi government.

Under Modi, in power since 2014, India has fallen to 140th out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). He said that he does not have Pakistani citizenship, and said he believes he is being targeted for his criticism of the Modi government.

In his latest article for Time, Mr Taseer said he had expected a "reprisal" for the earlier piece but not a "severing". He added that the government's decision amounts to sending him into "exile" and he now fears that he may never be let into India.

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Mr Taseer has argued he was born out of wedlock and was not in contact with his father until he was 21.

His father's identity as a liberal politician in Pakistan has not only been an enduring subject for Taseer's essays and novels, it also finds mention in the writings of his mother Tavleen, who is often vocal in support of the Modi regime. "My grandmother is 90 years old and lives in India and I may never see her again", Taseer told the BBC. "It was why I had always been viewed as Indian in India and why I had been granted an OCI", he wrote.

Curiously, most of the online attacks against Taseer harness the fact that his father was a Pakistani.

The Hindu said Aatish is expected to challenge the government's move against his OCI card. "But it is hard not to feel, given the timing, that I was being punished for what I had written", Taseer wrote.

His mother too has suggested that the move could be linked to his views. 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. I've heard nothing from the ministry since.,"he tweeted".

Not only did he immediately take to Twitter to refute the MHA's claim that he had hidden this widely known information, through his writings across the years Taseer has done very little to hide the fact that his father is Pakistani.

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