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Controversial Centre to ‘prune’ Sikh blacklist ...............

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    Centre to ‘prune’ Sikh blacklist,
    only 50 hardcore names to stay
    Anita Katyal
    Our Political Correspondent

    New Delhi, March 27
    Giving in to a two decades old demand by Punjab and its diaspora, the Centre has begun work on pruning the “blacklist” of Sikhs that debarred several members of the community from entering the country for their association with terrorists, it is learnt. Highly-placed sources in the Union Home ministry have said the list containing 300-odd names would be pared down to about 50 by next month-end.

    Notably, the list was prepared when terrorism was at its peak in Punjab in the eighties and mid-nineties. A large number of disenchanted Sikhs had left the country during that period and are presently settled in Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. While many of them actively took up the cause of Khalistan through militant outfits like Khalistan Liberation Front (KLF) and Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), others were involved indirectly.

    Sources said the Home ministry was currently in the process of identifying those who got involved with these groups in the rush of emotions at that time and have since distanced themselves from the movement. Officials admit there were several persons on the list who had made an occasional “anti-India” speech or attended an occasional meeting of separatist groups, and now their names would be struck off.

    “We will only retain the hardcore elements on the list and these should not account for more than 50-odd names,” said a senior Home ministry official, adding the sifting was being done on the basis of intelligence reports.

    Sikh NRIs and political parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Punjab Congress had been pressing the Centre to review and revise the list on the plea that it was prepared “arbitrarily” and that the situation in Punjab had improved after those dark days of militancy.

    While several NRIs whose names figured on the list had now undergone a change in ideology, their children were being denied visas for no fault of theirs, it has been pointed out. Besides, many who fled the country then on the grounds of police atrocity were actually using militancy as an excuse to migrate to the West.

    Apart from the overwhelming demand for the revision of the blacklist, the Home ministry had another reason too for giving a go-ahead to the exercise: Recent intelligence reports had warned that Islamabad was working on the hardcore Babbar Khalsa International members who had been given refuge in Pakistan to cross over to India and “stir up trouble here”. In addition, there was information that Sikh fundamentalists were regrouping. Under these circumstances, the Centre does not want to provide an opportunity for the disgruntled elements to create trouble in Punjab.
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