Aatish Taseer and MHA brawl over his OCI status

In a bizarre move which would suggest that the current dispensation has skin thinner than a single-use polythene bag, the Modi govt is considering revoking noted author and journalist Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India card.

According to a report in ThePrint, Taseer has been in the govt’s crosshairs since he wrote an article for Time magazine titled ‘Divider-in-Chief’ and criticised his first term as PM.

Sources told ThePrint that that Taseer has been served a notice and both parties are discussing the issue.

OCIs have several benefits including life-long visas which allows them to visit India at any time and have the same rights as NRIs.

Taseer’s mother is senior journalist Tavleen Singh, known for her fiery criticism of the UPA dispensation and the Gandhi family, and his father was Salman Taseer.

Salman Taseer was a liberal Pakistani politician and lawyer who was shot dead by his own bodyguard for defending a blasphemy accused in court.

Taseer was born in London and raised in India. The Modi govt is raising question about Taseer’s nationality in connection with his parentage.

The MHA said in an official statement: “Govt. considers revoking Author Aatish Ali Tasser's OCI card after his Time article..", as reported by #ThePrint, is a complete misrepresentation and is devoid of any facts. Mr. Aatish Ali Taseer, while submitting his PIO application, concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin. Mr. Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice. Thus, Mr. Aatish Ali Taseer becomes ineligible to hold an OCI card, as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. He has clearly not complied with very basic requirements and hidden information.”

Taseer is a columnist who often divides the political spectrum and even the literary world and once had a legendary fight with author William Dalrymple.

In the last few days, Taseer was found sparring with members of the BJP and supporters. It all appeared to start when he told the BJP overseas chief Dr Vijay Chauthale about a proposed plan to move Parliament: “Once you're done confining our democracy to a museum, you must offer your services to other older parliament buildings. What I would give to see Westminster turned into an institute for the study of cow urine, or the US Capitol into a museum of aviation during the Vedic period.”

This led to the kind of free-for-all on Twitter, that’d put a pig fight look civilised. Aatish wrote to another user in a now-deleted tweet: “I totally agree. I would give a limb to see @ShefVaidya splashing about in a puddle of cow urine, like a kind of cleopatra of gaumutra, or whatever the f*** it is.”

His mother Tavleen Singh also got involved and wrote: “Didn’t want to get into this but you forced me to. There is no camel urine or cow urine easily available in DELHI. This is where Aatish grew up. As for the ‘young lady’ she is middle aged and as viscous as trolls come on Twitter.”

Meanwhile, historian Ramchandra Guha also leapt to Taseer’s defence and wrote: “A person who thinks that @AatishTaseeris a “rabid Islamist” either (a) cannot read; (b) has not read a single word that Aatish Taseer has written; (c) believes that only a “rabid Islamist” could ever be critical in any way of anything that Narendra Modi says or does.”

Of course, Guha is technically wrong given Taseer’s cow urine comment was the one that’s earning him the ire, not his criticism of the Modi government.

Reacting, Aatish wrote: "This is untrue. Here is the Consul General’s acknowledgment of my reply. I was given not the full 21 days, but rather 24 hours to reply. I’ve heard nothing from the ministry since."

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