OCI card-holders protest Indian government’s decision to suspend their visas

indica News Bureau-

The Indian government issues new regulations  for international travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that state that the visas of foreign nationals and OCI cards, that provide visa-free travel privileges to the people of Indian-origin, have been suspended. The Indian-Americans holding the OCI cards have voiced their frustration over the Indian government’s decision, after it updated the OCI policy last week.

The OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) card is issued to the people of Indian-origin, allowing them a visa-free travel in most of the cases. It also gives them certain privileges like that of an Indian citizen except for buying agricultural land, voting, running for election and working in government.

In many cases where the minors having OCI cards while parents are still Indian citizens, a lot of problems are arising for families.

Asking the government to allow their OCI children to travel with their parents to India, Fazale Sattar wrote on Twitter. “Please allow Infants (with OCI cards) to travel with their parents (INDIANS) to India from the USA. Indian parents’ visas in the USA are going to expire, but due to the kid’s USA citizenship with OCI card we are not able to utilise flights scheduled by the government of India. Kindly allow minors to travel.”

Parents have flooded twitter with requests to let their OCI minor children return to India.

Another mother, Anitha Vankayala said that her daughter with an OCI card is waiting to come back home. “We never thought this kind of discrimination from government because of our OCI status. Please help us to get back our daughter,” she said.

“Modiji, this is definitely not what we looked at when we came back to your call of Reversal of brain drain.. We loved your spirits and came back 9yrs ago.. Please treat OCI’s with aadhar card same as Indians,” T R Sreelakshmi tweeted.

“Please help our kids who are OCI card holders and stranded as students in the UK, US,” tweeted Madhavi Srihari.

“For no fault of mine I am stuck outside the country separated from my family for two months now- is there any sense in this madness? What exactly will you achieve by banning OCI card holders from entering  India? Absolutely barn door ridiculous,” rued Binayak Chanda on twitter.

Preethi Gorjala sought help for her son. “Please Help. My son, an OCI card holder who grew up in India and presently studying in the US is stranded and not able to get back home due to the ban. Please allow OCI card holders also to get back home,” she pleaded.

“Many  OCI holders, all over the world are having a tough time. Forced to close their restaurants & other business. Economic loss is huge,” wrote Constant Gardner.
Ravi Puvvala said that he is an OCI card holder and currently stuck in Paris on the employment front and waiting to travel India in priority. “I am desperate to join my family(newborn) in India, They are struggling back home in India without me in this pandemic situation,” he said.

With tensions running high, people even took to blame the Indian and USA government arguing that OCI is permanent residency.

“No country has betrayed its permanent resident.. not even Indians who have Permanent residency of the USA (Green Card). We are only being made fools by our own Indian govt,” wrote a lady.

However, Indian American activist Sunanda Vashisht defended the Indian government.

“OCI card holders are not Indian citizens. They are of Indian-origin and OCI is a long term visa. GOI is rightly prioritising Indian citizens. If there are few urgent cases, embassies can look into that but OCI card holders en masse cannot and must not be  included in evacuations,” she said on Twitter.

Of all the countries, the Indian diplomatic missions in the US issues the largest number of OCI cards. For instance, in 2019, Indian diplomatic missions in the US issued 90,000 OCI cards. Globally there are six million OCI card holders.