NEW DELHI, August 17, 2016: An extraordinary move by PM Modi’s Office is sure to make thousands of Sikhs happy. The 32-year old Government blacklist that banned Sikh NRIs from 212 families to visit India has been scrapped and in election-bound Punjab, this move was much appreciated by the community, mentioned a leading news portal.
The blacklist affected most of the non-resident Sikhs who were residents in the UK, US and Canada. It was the Congress Government who made the blacklist after the Operation Bluestar in 1984 and the 1985 Kanishka bombings.
As known to all, Operation Bluestar was brought into effect under the order of PM Indira Gandhi. The operation took place between June 3- 8 June in 1984 and it was to remove Sikh militants who were accumulating weapons in the Harmandir Sahib Complex (now Golden Temple) in Amritsar, in order to establish control over the place.
The blacklist was brought into being as Sikh militants were spreading terror back then. As a result, Sikh militant groups were investigated for the bombing and there were several arrests in Canada. Explosives on the board of a Boeing-747 aircraft, Air India’s Kanishka that was flying the Montreal-New Delhi route resulted in destruction. 329 passengers, who were Canadian-Indians in the majority were killed while it was over Irish airspace.
Sources said the decision of the Government to remove the blacklist is likely to be headed by the additional secretary of the home ministry who had examined the blacklist, and 212 cases of a total of 324 were removed, reported ET Bureau.
Apart from that, remaining cases were examined and removed from the blacklist as well bringing relief to many NRI Sikhs. The officials who were in charge of the decision did not want to be identified.
Further, the ET bureau reports mentioned that the Intelligence Bureau have opposed the decision of removing the ban. During PM Modi’s visit to UK and Canada, there were several representations from Sikh NRI groups who urged him for the reconsideration of the India travel ban for Sikhs. Therefore Modi’s office delved deep into the matter. As a result, a committee was set up after which members of Intelligence Bureau was asked to reexamine each case minutely.
When detailed case studies were done, it was found that the names that were jotted down in the blacklist were random and that without investigation entire families were included in the list who had no connection to the incident. Apart from that, the surprising part is that the blacklist was never publicly acknowledged. Therefore for all these years, there were numerous visa denials and Sikh NRI communities were barred from visiting India. This led to the rise of thousand of voices who termed the act as systematic discrimination.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday compared former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who imposed Emergency, to Hitler, stating that both used the Constitution “to transform democracy into dictatorship”. Jaitley, whose second blog of a three-part series coincided with the 43rd anniversary of imposition of the Emergency, also noted that unlike the German dictator, Gandhi went ahead to transform India into a “dynastic democracy”.
“Both Hitler and Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into dictatorship,” he said. The BJP leader said Gandhi imposed Emergency under Article 352, suspended fundamental rights under Article 359 and claimed that disorder was planned by the opposition.
Jaitley said Hitler, who became the German Chancellor on January 30, 1933, got his President to invoke Article 48 of the country’s Constitution which gave emergency powers for the “protection of people in the State”. “The decree giving emergency powers put restrictions on personal liberty, free speech… The pretext for imposition of Emergency was that on February 27, 1933, German Parliament House, known as ‘Reichstag’, had been set on fire.
“Hitler claimed that it was a communist conspiracy to burn Government buildings and museums. Thirteen years later, in the Nuremberg trials, it was established that Reichstag fire was the handiwork of Nazis and Goebbels had conceived it.” He said Hitler arrested most opposition MPs.
“Indira Gandhi arrested most opposition MPs and, therefore, procured, through their absence, a two-third majority of members present and voting and enabling the passage of several obnoxious provisions through Constitution amendments,” Jaitley said.
The BJP leader said the 42nd Amendment diluted the power of High Courts to issue writ petitions, “a power which Dr. (B.R.) Ambedkar had said was the very heart and soul of India’s Constitution”. “They also amended Article 368 so that a Constitution amendment was beyond judicial review. There were a few things that Hitler did not do which Gandhi did.
“She prohibited the publication of Parliamentary proceeding in the media. The law which gave mandate to the media for publishing Parliamentary proceedings was popularly known as the Feroze Gandhi Bill,” he said. Since Hitler’s own election has been set aside, he had no change to make in this regard.
“Gandhi amended both the Constitution and the Representation of People Act. The Constitution amendment made the election of the Prime Minister non-justiciable before a court. “The Representation of People Act was retrospectively amended to insert those provisions so that the invalid election of Gandhi could be validated by changes in law.” He said amendments to the constitution made during Emergency were later reversed by the Janata Party government. (IANS)