Thousands of Pakistanis wanting to cross the border to meet their families are finding it difficult to come to India as every second visa application was rejected this year. The increasing proportion of declined visas has prompted Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale to enquire from New Delhi the reasons for a large number of requests being turned down.
With nearly 53 per cent applications rejected this year, there is a big jump in the proportion of visas being denied in the last two years – 24 per cent in 2015 and 17 per cent in 2014.
n a recent communication to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Bambawale has raised concerns about the increasing proportion of visa applications being rejected.
“I would be grateful if the reasons for the drastic increase in rejected visas can be ascertained and conveyed. If there is no plausible reason for drastic visa reductions then please do help in ensuring that the proportion rejected visas is retained,” he wrote.
Out of 33,191 applications received this year till May 31, 17,581 were rejected.The number of visas declined was 9,335 out of 38,557 applications in 2015 and in 2014, 8,910 visas were denied out of 50,338 applications.
Officials say following the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Pakistani terrorists, the increased hostilities between the two countries has had an impact on the bilateral relations.There have been several skirmishes on the border with Pakistani troops over the last two years.
There has been an increase in intelligence inputs indicating that Pakistan-based terrorists could enter the country, leading to heightened scrutiny, sources said.Earlier this year in January, soon after the Pathankot attack, a group of nearly 75 pilgrims who wanted to visit a shrine near Agra were denied visa on procedural grounds.
Specially when "cricketing fans" AKA ISI agents disappear in India after the match with Pakistan is over !Citizens of both countries have families across the border and visit religious places in large numbers.Last month, Bambawale met the Home Secretary and the two discussed measures to speed up the visa process for Pakistanis. Not only has the number of rejections spiralled, thousands of applications are pending for long citing security clearance.Officials said expediting the lengthy visa procedure is on the cards but security concerns cannot be overlooked.
In 2012, India and Pakistan signed a liberalised visa agreement that proposed a timebound approval to boost trade and people-to-people contact.
Should be first priority: to give them refuge from being "completely eliminated" if they are sent back to Pakistan !While the visa rejections are on the rise, the Narendra Modi government is working at amendments in existing laws to ensure that the process for getting Indian citizenship for persecuted Hindus in Pakistan is made hassle-free. A Bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, is likely to be introduced during the Monsoon session of Parliament scheduled in July-August.