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US-based billionaire Darshan Singh Dhaliwal picked for Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, was denied entry to India for supporting farmer protests

Dhaliwal said that he is shocked to learn that he has been picked for the award by the Modi government

On January 2, the Ministry of External Affairs announced the names of 27 overseas Indians for the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) – 2023. United States-based billionaire, Dr Darshan Singh Dhaliwal’s name was on the list. It is interesting to note that just two years ago, Dhaliwal was not allowed to enter India, when he was supporting the farmer protests ongoing at that time.

Darshan Singh Dhaliwal was denied entry into India on the intervening night of October 23-24, 2021. After questioning for several hours at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, he was asked to return to the US. Reportedly, Dhaliwal had organised a community kitchen for the farmers during protests against the now-repealed farm laws.

Dhaliwal, who is in the gasoline business in the United States, will get facilitated with the award during the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) Convocation scheduled for January 8 to January 10, 2023, in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Darshan Singh Dhaliwal is one of the largest gasoline retailers in the United States. By 2004, he owned over 1,000 gas stations in 11 states and had annual sales of $2 billion (Rs 9,000 crore), which was five times the size of Punjab’s yearly budget. In 1999, Dhaliwal entered into Punjab’s electoral politics by running his younger brother Surjit Singh Rakhra on a SAD ticket in the Lok Sabha elections.

During farmer protests, Dhaliwal was one of many overseas Indians who faced action for supporting anti-India protests. At that time, Dhaliwal had alleged, “When I asked why I was being denied permission to enter India, the immigration officials asked the same questions that they had been asking earlier too – why I organised the langar at Singhu border and who is paying for it. They said I should stop funding this langar if I wanted to enter India.”

As per a Hindustan Times report, Dhaliwal said that he is shocked to learn that he has been picked for the award. “It has come as a shock for me. In fact, this is the second shock given to me by the Indian government within two years. This time, I am pretty glad that the Indian government has recognised my work for the Indian diaspora in the US,” he said.

He added, “Apart from doing my business, I do my bit in giving back to society. I help Indians to study, work and do business in the US. It is an honour that my work has been recognised in the country of my birth. My family and friends in the US will also accompany me to Indore,” he added.

As per Jagran’s report, Dhaliwal said he was not part of the farmer protests against the farm laws. The objective of the community kitchen was to provide food to the protesters. He praised PM Modi and said, “He has done much for the country. He has done much work for the Sikh community, and I wish he continues his work.”

Govt of India’s action against PIOs and OCIs for their role in anti-India protests

Dhaliwal was not the only one who faced the action during farmer protests. The ministry of exterior affairs has cancelled the long-term visas of about 12 PIOs in Canada and Overseas Citizen Of India (OCI) cardholders who have been directly or indirectly trying to create chaos in the country by propagating false propaganda against India.

“Many Indians, including students, used offensive language against India during the protests that are in our notice. A dozen such individuals have been blacklisted and will be repatriated from the Indian airports upon arrival,” said sources privy to the case.

As part of the crackdown against those individuals endorsing violence in the name of supporting ‘farmer’ protests, besides Dhaliwal, a Spain-based businessman Amrik Singh was flown back on his arrival at Delhi airport on October 21.

Amrik Singh, while speaking to TOI, said he had been supporting the farmer’s protest from the start. He said that he has also participated in protests in support of farmers in Spain. Singh, however, claimed that he did not support any activity which could be called anti-India.

About Pravasi Bhartiya Samman

The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) is the highest honour for overseas Indians. The President of India confers it as part of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, an annual convention to recognise achievements by members of the Indian diaspora. A jury-cum-awards committee, with the Vice President of India as Chairman and External Affairs Minister as vice chairman and other distinguished members from various walks of life, considered nominations for PBSA awards in 2023 and unanimously selected the awardees.

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