Feature Article

India to screen academics of Sri Lanka attending conferences

[TamilNet, Sunday, 21 February 2010, 20:25 GMT]
Participants from Sri Lanka to conferences in India require advance security clearance from the Home Ministry of India. The restrictions are applicable to peoples of eight countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and to people of Pakistani origin and stateless persons, media reports said Friday, citing instructions sent to all Central Ministries, Departments and Chief Secretaries of all State Governments and Union Territories. India’s foreign policy necessitating six-weeks scrutiny for academics of one half of the countries of South Asia is shocking, political observers said adding that while governments collaborate in state terrorism at higher levels they prevent their peoples uniting against it. Some of the countries now red-flagged for academics were India’s staunch partners in abetting Sri Lanka’s war crimes and defending them at the UNHRC.

For a long time Eezham Tamils and the diaspora of Eezham Tamil origin complain of discrimination in the issue of any kind of Indian visa.

Sections of pro-Indian Eezham Tamils, having interests in India and were hoping the visa situation would ease out once the LTTE is crushed, now regret saying the Indian attitude became worsened after May last year.

Eezham Tamils who wish to participate Mr. M. Karunanidhi’s Tamil conference this year may have to give their names several weeks in advance and may have to be prepared for security scrutiny by the ministry of Mr. P. Chidamparam, Tamil circles said, commenting on the new guidelines for Indian conference visa.

Eroding the spirit of federalism further, even a state government in India cannot now convene an international conference without asking the Centre, observers pointed out.

But making a striking contrast, reports coming from the diaspora said that a pro-Indian paramilitary group is now actively engaged in recruiting diaspora Tamils with promise of Indian visa and ticket to participate in a political conference in India.

Sections of Eezham Tamils believe that initiatives for a Deputy High Commission of India in Jaffna and a TNA office in New Delhi, as indirect recognition conceded to Eezham Tamil nation, may bring in new equations. But the apprehension of many is whether these apparatus are for closer scrutiny, political engineering and for locking Eezham Tamil nationalism and its independent polity.

What so ever, the new visa guidelines of the Indian Establishment, paranoid and arise as a result of wrong global outlook, are not going to help healthy ‘people to people relationship’ vital for peace in the whole region, political observers said.

From now, the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry will be the sole authority to give “in-principle approval” to any international conference, seminar, workshop, etc., held in India.

Organizers of international events in India have to submit their proposals to the Home Ministry at least six weeks before the commencement of the event for security clearance.

The details of the participants from the red-flagged countries listed above also have to be submitted at least six weeks in advance for scrutiny and clearance of the Home Ministry.

Participants from countries other than the listed ones could obtain conference visa from the Indian Mission concerned by producing invitation letter from the organizer, event clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, administrative approval of the nodal ministry, political clearance from the Foreign Ministry and clearance from the State Government or Union Territory concerned.

According to home ministry officials cited by media, guidelines had been set in this respect last year, but fresh guidelines had been issued because various universities and institutions were ignoring them and inviting foreign academics without permission.

The guidelines also states that foreign participation should not be generally considered for conferences of political, semi-political, communal or religious nature, or those related to human rights or sensitive technical subjects, South Asian media reports said.

Political observers said Government of India is seriously perturbed over mounting intellectual opinion against its domestic and foreign policies breaching norms of democracy and human rights.

Last week, Indian Home Minister, Mr. P. Chidamparam openly came out accusing that intellectuals supporting India’s Marxist rebels hamper the government’s current war against them.


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