North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) raised the issue of granting visas and passports to NRI Punjabis, who had sought political asylum in other countries, to enable them to visit India, in its meeting with union minister of Overseas Indians Affairs on Tuesday.
NAPA Executive President Satnam Singh Chahal, who participated in the meeting saidthousands of Punjabis who had taken political asylum in other countries were either not granted visas or were not issued passports and they could not visit their home land.
“These persons of Indian origin and their dependents who were granted asylum in US are now bonafide Permanent Residents/ citizens of USA. It is a known and established fact that these people were not political refugees but rather economic migrants who main reason for migration were economic and several even feared to be on the receiving end of violence in the state in the eighties and nineties,” argued NAPA while seeking compassionate consideration of these cases rather than remaining caught up on old stereotyped approach on the issue.
“Most of these asylum seekers fall in this category and did not have any association with any terror outfit. It has become very difficult for thesePersons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and their dependents to get visa or Indian Passport for visiting their relatives in India, to attend social and religious functions and manage their properties,” said Chahal. He said that the minister assured them of positive action in the matter.
NAPA also raised the issue of providing a mechanism to enable the NRIs to cast their votes rather than making it compulsory for them to come here for voting after they had been given the rights to exercise their franchise.