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OCI card of Ashok Swain cancelled, falsely claims he can’t enter India

Ashok Swain, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden who is known for his anti-Indian and anti-Hindu views, has approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the union government’s decision to withdraw its Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) ) card. Swain has argued that his OCI card was arbitrarily canceled, claiming that this cancellation violates his fundamental right to free movement and other rights.

In response to the petition, the Supreme Court sent a notice to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Embassy of India in Sweden and Latvia requesting them to respond within 4 weeks. Ashok Swain lives in Sweden and his OCI card has been canceled by the Indian Embassy in Sweden and Latvia. The case is scheduled for hearing on February 7.

According to the petition, Ashok Swain was issued an OCI card in January 2020, but in October of the same year, he received a show-cause notice from the Indian embassy that the OCI card was blocked, saying that he indulged in inflammatory speeches and anti-Indian activities. He responded to the notice denying the allegations in November 2020. He also claims that no specific incidents of his anti-India activities were mentioned in the notification.

The petition further states that on February 8 this year, his OCI card was canceled by the Embassy of India in Sweden and Latvia, pursuant to Section 7D(e) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

What Ashok Swain claims

He then went to the Delhi High Court to challenge the cancellation, arguing that he was being ‘witch-hunted’ by the Modi government and that his OCI card had been arbitrarily cancelled. In response to the accusation of inflammatory speeches and anti-Indian activities, he said that as a scholar, his job is to criticize governments. He claimed that he only criticizes the Modi government and its policies, and therefore cannot be held guilty of indulging in anti-Indian activities under Section 7D(e) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Ashok Swain also claimed that the action violates his fundamental right to free movement and other rights granted to him by virtue of his OCI status. He also said in the plea that he has a sick mother of about 77 years old in India who suffers from various medical conditions and that he needs to visit her urgently. But because the OCI card has been cancelled, he cannot travel to India to meet his mother, he claimed.

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Several other people also claimed on social media that Ashok Swain has been banned from entering India.

What is an OCI card and what does its cancellation mean?

OCI card is issued to people of Indian descent and their spouses who are citizens of other countries, allowing them to live in India indefinitely. People with OCI cards do not need to apply for a visa to travel to India, they can travel with the OCI card and their foreign passport, making entry into the country hassle-free.

The OCI card does not grant its holders Indian citizenship, the right to vote, the right to participate in elections or hold any public office. Therefore, an OCI card is more of a permanent visa for India with a lifetime residence permit, without the need for a visa stamp in the passport. The Government of India has the right to revoke OCI cards issued to any person.

When an OCI card is cancelled, the holder of that card loses the right to visa-free entry to India and the right to reside in India indefinitely. But more importantly, it does not prevent that person from entering India as Ashok Swain suggests. After the OCI card has been cancelled, he is now a normal person of Indian descent and there is no entry ban for India.

Cancellation of the OCI card means that he cannot enter India without a visa, but he can get a visa and travel to India just like any foreigner, including Indian foreigners who have not been issued the card. After entering India, Ashok Swain can stay for the period specified in the visa.

Therefore, the claim that the cancellation of the OCI card violates his fundamental right to free movement and other rights is completely false and incorrect. The cancellation of the OCI card is not a violation of any constitutional right as it is a privilege granted by the Government of India to foreigners of Indian descent and is not a constitutional right or any other right. It is important to note that the OCI card is a privilege, not a right.

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Only the convenience of visa-free travel has been taken away from him, and there is absolutely no impediment to his freedom of movement in India just because his OCI card has been cancelled. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that he cannot visit his sick mother because he does not have the OCI card. He can just get a visa to India and visit his mother, there is no ban on that.

It is significant that the OCI card facility was only introduced in 2005 and before that time people of Indian descent traveled to India on regular visas. Moreover, Ashok Swain himself said that he only got the card in January 2020 and it was blocked after 10 months.

According to the reports, Ashok Swain has been living in Sweden for the last 32 years after receiving his PhD from JNU in 1991. This means that from the time he gave up his Indian citizenship until January 2020, he visited India without an OCI card, using the regular visa route. Therefore, the claim that he cannot visit India due to cancellation of the OCI card issued just two years ago is completely false and baseless.

Ashok Swain and Anti-Indian Activities

Ashok Swain says he is only criticizing the government and not making anti-India comments, that claim is completely false, and he is regularly caught spreading anti-Indian hate and sharing fake news that portrays India as an anti-Muslim country.

Just a few days ago, he shared a video claiming that a man was beaten for being Muslim. He shared a video and tweeted, “Another day, another lynching! Another Muslim man lynched in Maharashtra, India.” While the man survived, he falsely claimed it was a lynching, but he corrected this in a subsequent tweet, and the man was not beaten because he was Muslim, he was beaten on suspicion of being a thief.

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Ashok Swain has previously shared similar bogus claims, labeling arbitrary acts as anti-Muslim acts. Earlier in 2019, he had alleged that a Muslim boy was set on fire for not singing Jai Shri Ram when the fact is that the boy set himself on fire in a dargah.

In India, people regularly take the law into their own hands after catching a thief, pickpocket, etc., and usually the crowd doesn’t even know the religion and other identities of such people. But if such culprits are Muslim, people like Ashok Swain claim they are being attacked because they are Muslim. The only reason to do this is to portray India as an anti-Muslim country. Therefore, it is definitely an anti-Indian activity.

Ashok Swain also wanted ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ protests in India to protest alleged extrajudicial killings of Muslims in the country. He had said in May 2020 that the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests in the US following George Floyd’s death should be repeated in India to “oppose extrajudicial killings of Muslims in the country”. At the time, “Black Lives Matter” protests meant rioting and violence, with protesters vandalizing and looting stores. They had clashed with police, set fire to vehicles, buildings, including several police stations and medical stores.

He wanted such riots and arson attacks by Muslims and followers of Muslims in India, which can certainly be called an anti-Indian activity.

Ashok Swain also regularly posts Hinduphobic tweets and mocks BJP, RSS, Narendra Modi and other leaders with despicable terms. He denies that Muslim rulers destroyed and looted Hindu temples, and denies that there was a genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. He had called LTTE a Hindu terror organization and even blamed Hindutva for the Covid-19 pandemic. He also praises Pakistan while criticizing India, showing the direction of his loyalty.

His comments certainly fall under hate speech, and the government has the right to cancel his OCI card citing the same.

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