On the night of 7th November 2019, Ministry of Home Affairs said that writer and journalist Aatish Taseer is ineligible for getting an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card, as he had concealed the fact that his father was of Pakistani origin. Strongly rebutting a report in The Print which alleged that the union government is considering revoking Taseer’s OCI card after he had criticised Modi government in an article published in the Time magazine. Evidently, Taseer was given the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards, but he failed to dispute the notice. “Thus, Mr Aatish Ali Taseer becomes ineligible to hold an OCI card, as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. He has clearly not complied with very basic requirements and hidden information,” the MHA said.
While the MHA statement only came yesterday after The Print published conjecture about Taseer’s OCI being cancelled for a critical article he had written in May in TIME, the saga began in September 2019 as Taseer admits in his article today. In the article headlined “I am Indian. Why is the Government Sending Me Into Exile?”, Aatish Taseer makes no rebuttal of the claim itself. Not once, in his article or on Twitter has Aatish disputed the claim that he concealed the fact that his father was a Pakistani.
While Taseer’s silence on the matter is a clear indication that he indeed did not mention material facts in his OCI application, he has today taken to TIME to write an article full of conjectures, victim playing and over-all lies to claim that the Modi government is somehow being vindictive for an article he wrote back in May.
From the very start of the article, Aatish Taseer goes on to play victim without stating facts. He says that after he wrote the article where he called PM Modi the ‘Divider in chief’, he got threats and was maligned. The victimhood that Aatish peddles in his article is staggering.
“I am Westernized; I am English-speaking; I am part of the despised elite whose entrenched power had helped fuel the rise of Modi. But there was another aspect of my identity that made me especially vulnerable to attack: my father was born in British India to a British mother and a father who became Pakistani when that country was created”
Further, he says that he was born out of wedlock and that his father, the Governor of Punjab in Pakistan was assassinated. Thereafter, he lived with his ‘famous journalist’ mother. He does, however, say that he was born in Britain and holds British citizenship but was raised in India, held an OCI and that his status as an ‘Indian’ was never questioned before this.
Firstly, Aatish is not an “Indian”. He is a Britisher who was granted an OCI because one of his parents was Indian. However, the rules of acquiring an OCI are rather clear. On the OCI website itself, the rules mention that none of the parents should be or should have ever been the citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Further, section 7A(1) of the Citizenship Act 1955, specifically states that if any person or either of their parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or any other country as notified by the government, such persons would not be eligible for getting the OCI status.
Thus, it can easily be argued that Aatish Taseer holding an OCI card in itself was a contravention of the law committed by the previous governments in India. And his OCI card has been rightly cancelled in accordance with the law.
Aatish, in his article, then goes on to lie blatantly. He writes (emphasis mine):
While the government did not initially reveal their motivations behind this action, they have now stated their reasons for removing my OCI: “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin.” But it is hard not to feel, given the timing, that I was being punished for what I had written.
I read the letter, which in bland bureaucratic language informed me that the country I was raised in and lived in for most of my adult life was no longer mine: “after consideration of facts and circumstances in the matter, “ it read, “the Central government is of the provisional opinion that the registration as an OCI cardholder granted to Aatish Ali Taseer, may be cancelled under Section 7D(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, for obtaining OCI card by means of false representation and the concealment of material facts.”
Interestingly, while he says the ‘government did not initially reveal their motivations behind this action’, in the very next paragraph, he talks about how the letter he received from the Indian government in September mentioned that his OCI is liable to be cancelled because of the provisions of Section 7D(a) of Citizenship Act 1955.
Section 7D(a) reads as follows:
It is thus hard to believe that Aatish did not know exactly the reason for which his OCI was being cancelled. Further, in the screenshot of the email provided by Aatish Taseer himself, a sentence is visible where he says there are ‘several incorrect statements’ in the letter. In the absence of the copy of the letter itself, one has to assume he was informed that his OCI is being cancelled because he failed to mention that his father was of Pakistani origin.
Aatish further writes about how much he supposedly loves India, however, unfortunately for him, even though his proclaimed “love for India” is under contention given his recent rant against Hindus, laws don’t really care much about his or anyone else’s feelings.
In his article, Aatish then goes on to lie about freedom of expression in India, the plight of Muslims etc which are lies that are so transparent, that it is almost an insult to the reader’s sensibilities to even rebut them in this article.
The fact that the cold, hard law was being applied to the Lutyens blue-eyed boy was not taken kindly to by the cabal. All of them, including Aatish’s mother, came up with the most wildly ridiculous reasons as to why Aatish’s OCI should not be cancelled.
First, The Wire journalist Maya Mirchandani claimed that this was patriarchy, the convenient conjecture that is made to suit every situation by the “liberals”. She said that “his mother doesn’t count” and hence, the government was being patriarchal. To that, The Hindu journalist Suhasini Haider responded and said Aatish Taseer had mentioned everything in details in his 2007 book.
Essentially, what Suhasini Haider wanted was for government officials to refer to his 2007 book for facts pertaining to his OCI certificate because Aatish Taseer is the famous son of a famous mother who is a famous journalist and belongs to the Lutyens circle and hence, the government has no right to inconvenience the privileged baby-boy with pesky details like the law.
Where there is asininity, Barkha Dutt is often not far away. She tweeted that that Government action against Aatish is extremely “sexist”. According to her, the government of India should have given agency to the fact that Aatish was raised by a single mother who is very brave.
While one is not sure what bravery is required in India to lash out at Hindus and defend one’s son who regularly makes cow-urine jokes, much like the Pulwama terrorist, one is sure that Barkha Dutt frequently displays the courage to air her sub-human intellect publicly.
Barkha Dutt, who has long made the ridiculous claim that she is a journalist, conceals the fact that the law, in this case, is not “sexist”. It clearly says that a person is not eligible for OCI if either parent has ever been citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh. Essentially, would Aatish Taseer or anyone, for that matter, be eligible for an OCI if the mother, and not the father, was Pakistani citizenship? No.
The Deputy Director of Amnesty South Asia also made the ridiculous claim that since Aatish had written a book in 2007, he was not required to follow the law.
Rajdeep Sardesai jumped in the fray and ensured that he made no sense whatsoever.
Sushant Singh, a journalist with NDTV who was caught lying about ‘renewed aggression in Doklam’, must be at least given credit for raising a point that was different from the rest of the cacophony, however asinine. He asked that if Adnan Sami could be given citizenship, why couldn’t Taseer be granted OCI.
What Sushant wilfully forgets is that Adnan Sami gave up his Pakistani citizenship to take Indian citizenship while Aatish Taseer wants to flaunt his British citizenship and then claim, that in contravention of the law, he has a right to hold the OCI card. What Sami did was legal. He gave up his Pakistani passport to apply to become an Indian citizen. What Aatish Taseer wants is the privilege of holding an OCI card, while remaining British citizenship in contravention of the law that makes him ineligible for OCI in the first place.
Finally, Aatish Taseer’s mother, Taveleen Singh tried, uselessly to defend him. While a mother’s tenacity is understandable, a journalist’s unconscionable lies are certainly not.
Even if Tavleen Singh did mention all the details when she got Aatish here when he was two-years-old, the fact remains that per the laws of the land, Aatish is not eligible for an OCI because his father was of Pakistani origin. That his OCI has not been cancelled earlier is what should be a concern, not that it has been cancelled now. Everything else is a conjecture.
There were several others who made similar arguments, but the crux of the issue remained strikingly the same – ‘Aatish serves our purpose. Leave him alone and let him break the law!’ Unfortunately for the Lutyens cabal, that they are the “English speaking elite”, as Aatish himself puts it, doesn’t make them eligible to break the laws. That they consider themselves above the unwashed masses, doesn’t make them special. That their coterie assumes to rule the narrative, doesn’t mean anything when it comes to cold, hard facts. Aatish Taseer’s Hinduphobia, while grotesque was not the reason his OCI is being cancelled. Aatish Tasser’s call for Muslims to unite is not why he is put through his inevitable fate. That he wrote a lie-laden article, is not the reason either. If it were, there would be no five-star journalists left in India. Aatish Taseer is not eligible for OCI because his father was a Pakistani and on top of that, he concealed that fact. That a Hinduphobic Islamist’s OCI is being cancelled, is just a bonus – an unintended one.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017