New Delhi: The Union home ministry has removed the names of 312 Sikhs living outside India who are foreign nationals from its blacklist, which means they can now travel to India on valid visas. With this, only two names remain on the blacklist.
The blacklist, or “adverse list” of Sikh foreign nationals was started during the peak of militancy in Punjab. Now all Indian diplomatic missions overseas will discontinue keeping the blacklist, which originally had 314 names.
The names were removed from the list after a thorough background check by multiple security and intelligence agencies. Removing the names of Sikh foreign nationals from the blacklist and allowing them to travel to India to meet their families had been a long-standing demand of political leaders cutting across party lines in Punjab.
Capt. Amarinder Singh on Friday welcomed the Centre’s decision, and said that it came after intensive lobbying by the state government. He said it would help to alleviate the sense of alienation among the families of the Sikhs whose names were on the list.
Some of those on the list had fled India and sought asylum overseas or became foreign nationals during the heyday of militancy in Punjab. They were thus placed on the “adverse list” that was maintained by all Indian missions abroad. Due to this, these people could not be granted Indian visas.
All Indian diplomatic missions have now been directed that all these people should be allowed to apply for Indian visas, including long-term visas. After holding such visas for a period of two years or more, they will then be eligible to apply for the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.