The government today removed the names of 312 persons belonging to Sikh community who left India during militancy years in Punjab and sought asylum in other countries.
They were put on the ‘adverse list’ prepared by the Union government till 2016 making them ineligible to avail visa services to visit India.
The Ministry Of Home Affairs (MHA) has refused to reveal names of those struck off from the list due to ‘legal impediment’. The list carried names of 314 persons which is now reduced to only two people who are still suspected to have links with forces inimical to India.
Following the 1984 Sikh genocide in Delhi, many Indian and foreign nationals belonging to the Sikh community initiated Khalistan movement in Punjab.
Some Sikh Indian nationals fled the country to escape authorities, became foreign nationals and took asylum outside India.
As the government refused to issue them Indian passport, they were unable to return home and meet their extended families and also look after their properties since then.
The Indian High Commission in London in its tweet stated the landmark decision will give an opportunity to Sikh diaspora to avail visa services to visit India and connect to their roots.
The Hindu quoting a senior MHA official stated that Sikhs mentioned in the list could eventually apply for registration as Overseas Citizens Of India (OCI) after they have applied for and held visa for a period of two years.
Welcoming the move, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted, “It’s time to welcome them back home and let them meet their families & integrate with Punjab,”.
The controversial list whose names were never revealed by the Indian government was pruned on several occasions, sometimes on directions of the human rights watchdog and at others, under pressure from Punjab’s political parties who want the centre to take a lenient view of people who may have once sympathised with a pro-Khalistan sentiment.
PM Modi’s office too had pushed for pruning the list back in 2015 after his first visit to Canada.
In 2016, his government told parliament that it had removed 225 names from this blacklist under a review triggered by a request from then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.