Aatish Taseer, son of late Pakistani politician Salman Taseer and Indian journalist Tavleen Singh, has said that he expected a ‘reprisal’ by the Indian government after he was stripped of the overseas Indian citizenship. Taseer, who famously wrote the cover story for Time magazine at the peak of the Indian elections in May this year calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘India’s divider-in-chief,’ was stripped of his OCI status by the ministry of home affairs on Thursday.
The MHA headed by Amit Shah alleged that Taseer had concealed the information about his Pakistani father. In a series of tweets, the home ministry spokesperson said, “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.”
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.
— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) November 7, 2019
Contesting the MHA’s claims, Taseer shared the screenshot of his email conversation with the US Consul General, which had confirmed acknowledging his response to the notice by the Indian government about his OCI status.
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. https://t.co/z7OtTaLLeO pic.twitter.com/t3LBWUtkdi
— Aatish Taseer (@AatishTaseer) November 7, 2019
He also wrote a moving piece for Time magazine explaining how he expected a reprisal from the Indian government after his cover story critical of PM Modi. “I had expected a reprisal, but not a severing. While the government did not initially reveal their motivations behind this action, they have now stated their reasons for removing my OCI: “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin.” But it is hard not to feel, given the timing, that I was being punished for what I had written,” Taseer wrote.
He concluded, “Out of a habit of mind, I clung to the idea of India as a liberal democracy, the world’s largest. But entering the United States in September, I was aware for the first time that I was no longer merely an immigrant, no longer someone moving between his home country and an adoptive one. I was an exile.”
Writing for Time magazine in May, Taseer had wondered if India could endure another five years of the Modi government. As the author of the cover story, he had written, “As India votes this month, the irony of those words (Modi’s promises of 2014) is not lost on anyone. Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialize, he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India. One of his young party men, Tejasvi Surya, put it baldly in a speech in March 2019, “If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, then you are strengthening anti-India forces.”