New Delhi: Writer Aatish Ali Taseer Overseas Citizenship of India status has been revoked, following a statement by the home ministry that he had concealed information that his father was from Pakistan.
The UK born writer, however, has countered the government saying he had not been given enough time to respond to the charges and said he felt he was being punished for what he had written for the Time Magazine in May.
A Home Ministry spokesperson said Taseer becomes ineligible to hold an OCI card, as per the Citizenship Act, 1955, as the OCI card is not issued to any person whose parents or grandparents are Pakistanis and he “hid this fact”.
Taseer has clearly not complied with very basic requirements and hidden information, the spokesperson said, disputing a media report suggesting the move was linked to a story published in the Time magazine.
The 38-year-old writer is the son of late Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer and Indian journalist Tavleen Singh.
The home ministry spokesperson said Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objection regarding his Person of India Origin/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice.
Reacting to the home ministry statement, Taseer wrote on Twitter that he was not given 21 days to reply to the home ministry notice but just 24 hours.
In a piece written for the Time magazine on Friday, he said although he had 21 days to respond and to contest the government’s claims; it was day 20 when he had received the notice. He said he had immediately emailed to contest their claims, with the Indian Consul General of New York acknowledging receipt.
Taseer, 38, who had lived with his mother in India, said it is hard not to feel, given the timing, that he was being punished for what he had written for the Time Magazine in May.
His article for Time titled “India’s Divider in Chief”, was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The piece, one of two on the cover of the magazine's international Edition, was published on May 20, just before the results of the Lok Sabha election.
The move to cancel his citizenship status has invited criticism from the Opposition, which accused the Modi government of targeting the author. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said he had been often attacked by Taseer’s mother but he condemned the move to revoke the author’s citizenship. “It was, however only to be expected. All critical voices are either snooped on, harassed or muzzled,” he added.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor too slammed the move, asking if the government was “so weak” that it feels threatened by a journalist.