indica News Bureau-
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) are canceling their India trip due to problems while traveling.
OCI card is a facility that brings the Indian diaspora in USA and other countries, at par with NRI’s (Non-Resident Indians), in financial, educational and economic matters, granting them multiple entries and multi-purpose life-long visa to visit India. The OCI card however, does not help them with property- agricultural land or plantation properties.
It was recently reported by PTI that many Indians are being forced to turn back mid-way while visiting India, as airlines refuse to ferry passengers whose OCI card numbers do not match with the ones on their passport. The reason behind this problem is lack of awareness about strict enforcement of a rule on renewal, Prem Bhandari, chairman of Jaipur Foot USA, Indian-American has said in a petition to the Indian Ambassador.
“Airlines and immigration officials cite a recent advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation and demand that passengers below 20 years of age and above 50 years of age need to have their OCI cards renewed after renewal of their passports. This has resulted in many passengers being turned back from the airports,” Bhandari said.
He urged Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla to help in fixing this issue through public information and awareness campaigns in the USA and at the same time getting the OCI cards rules simplified from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“The purpose of OCI card inter alia was to ease the travel experience of holders and not to cause avoidable anxiety and distress,” he said, adding that in his next India visit he plans to raise the matter with the Ministry of Civil Aviation so that airlines could be suitably briefed.
Bhandari said that he has also raised this issue with Pradeep Singh Kharola, secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation.
“While the issue is being fixed, I request Ministry of Home Affairs to adequately brief international airlines so that members of Indian diaspora travelling to India are not harassed at the airports,” Mr. Bhandari added.
Time to spread awareness among OCI card holders
Despite the fact that this rule- OCI card number should be renewed with passport renewal- has existed for a long time, the lack of awareness among the OCI card holders, has caused discomfort to many Indians travelling to India as the government of India became strict in the implementation of the rule.
“There is a need for a massive awareness campaign. A line in each of the OCI card mentioning this provision would help in creating awareness,” Bhandari said, adding, “The Indian government already has the contact details including email and phone numbers of each of the OCI card holders. It would be helpful, if the government reached out to them on an urgent basis on this issue,” he said. “In fact, the age for mandatory renewable of OCI card should be below 18 years and above 70 years,” Bhandari demanded.