Ti­betan refugees to get desi pass­ports

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - Ab­hi­nav Garg

The pol­icy change came into ef­fect in March and it is ex­pected to ben­e­fit thou­sands of Ti­betans liv­ing in In­dia in forced ex­ile

New Delhi: Ti­betan refugees born in In­dia dur­ing 195087 will soon be able to get In­dian pass­ports, ac­cord­ing to a new pol­icy by the Cen­tre.

The min­istry of ex­ter­nal af­fairs (MEA) ac­cepted a Delhi high court rul­ing from last year that had asked for Ti­betan refugees to be con­sid­ered In­dian cit­i­zens. The gov­ern­ment in­formed Jus­tice San­jeev Sachdeva that it has ac­cepted his Septem­ber 2016 ver­dict that na­tion­al­ity of Ti­betans, born in In­dia dur­ing the spe­cific pe­riod, can­not be ques­tioned un­der the Cit­i­zen­ship Act.

The pol­icy change came into ef­fect from March 2017 and is ex­pected to ben­e­fit thou­sands of Ti­betans liv­ing in In­dia in forced ex­ile. The MEA di­rected all pass­port of­fices in In­dia and abroad to process pend­ing ap­pli­ca­tions of Ti­betan Refugee ap­pli­cants born in In­dia be­tween 26/01/1950 to 01/ 07/1987 for the is­sue of pass­ports, and treat them as In­dian cit­i­zens by birth.

Lat­est rules also spec­ify that if the po­lice ver­i­fi­ca­tion re­port in the cases of such ap­pli­cants from lo­cal po­lice or se­cu­rity agen­cies of the gov­ern­ment is re­ceived as “ad­verse” be­cause the refugee is not an In­dian cit­i­zen by birth, it will be treated by the au­thor­i­ties as “cleared.”

Ear­lier the home min­istry had ar­gued that it con­sid­ers re­quests for cit­i­zen­ship by Ti­betans re­sid­ing in In­dia on a case-by-case ba­sis, but the HC or­dered it to con­sider ap­pli­ca­tions of all Ti­betans and not ask them to cer­tify their na­tion­al­ity. Till then the MHA was is­su­ing iden­tity cer­tifi­cate/ res­i­den­tial per­mit in­stead of pass­ports to the Ti­betan Refugees.

With MEA is­su­ing new rules, HC de­clared five pe­ti­tion­ers be­fore it to be In­dian cit­i­zens and en­ti­tled to a pass­port, ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to is­sue them travel doc­u­ments in four weeks. The pe­ti­tion­ers had gone to court ar­gu­ing they were wrongly de­nied pass­ports de­spite hav­ing other proofs of cit­i­zen­ship in­clud­ing voter ID cards.

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