Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
When I was in California, USA in 2019 an elderly gentleman met me and asked me for help. He had been a Pakistani citizen in his youth, but about 40 years ago had migrated to America, and become a US citizen. He had earlier got a ten-year Indian visa and had been to India many times where he has relatives and friends. But when that 10 year period expired, and he applied for a renewal of his Indian visa, he was told by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco that it would not be renewed.
I sent an email to a retired Indian Foreign Service officer who was my friend about the matter, and he informed me that the policy of the Indian Government has changed, and the new policy is that if one had ever held a Pakistani passport, even if 40 years ago, he would not be granted an Indian visa ( except in some very rare case ).
This is in contrast to the policy of the Pakistani Government which grants a Pakistani visa online ( i.e. without even visiting the Embassy or Consulate ) to a person holding a non-Indian passport, even if he had at one time held an Indian passport.
I received this email recently from a doctor living in America for about 28 years, who held a Pakistani passport in his youth, but got a US passport long ago :
|8:12 AM (9 minutes ago)|
I am a Pakistani/Indian American physician residing in USA for last 28 years. My parents were from Bihar India. I am a firm believer in creating a European Union model conversion of Sarc countries.
Right now I am writing to you to bring to your notice the difficulties faced by American citizens of Pakistani origin to obtain a traveling visa for India. Recently the Pakistani government has given unilateral concession for NRIS , that is any foreign citizen of Indian origin is given the same visa facilities offered to the citizens of host countries irrespective of their Indian origin.
As you would appreciate, there can not be any replacement for people to people contact. It was most unfortunate that visa restrictions were placed between the two countries to start with. I have talked to many older people involved in the independence movement and I have been told that it wasn’t even in their wildest dreams that people will be separated like this. By division, they thought that India and Pakistan were going to be two different administrative unit but somehow would remain united.
In any case, if you can raise this issue in Parliament or foreign office it would go a long way in improving the relationship in the region. Another way is to give this concessions to people of sixty and above. My wife and I are both American citizens and would be eager to visit India if the present process is simplified.
I have been a student of Indo-Pakistan history and have proposals to offer which can bring the two countries closer if such a need is felt.
Dr. Mohammad Shahid Kamal, M.D Indianapolis, USA
I suggest that persons who hold American or European passports but had at one time held a Pakistani passport should start a campaign to persuade the Indian Government to change its present policy and start granting them Indian visas so that they can visit their relatives and friends in India. For this purpose, they should contact US and European Govt officials, as well as Senators, Representatives, MPs, etc as well as other influential persons