Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Girish Chodankar addressing a press conference on Sunday said the draconian Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) notification issued by the Union Home Ministry will finish the connection between hard working Goans abroad and their motherland.
“The BJP government since coming to power is all out to sell Goa to crony capitalists friends of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the three linear projects and now the draconian OCI notification issued by the Modi government’s Home Ministry will finish the hard working Goans working abroad,” Chodankar said.
“Goa government is not able to give jobs to the people of this state and hence, our youth find jobs overseas. This new notification will disconnect them with Goa and also will create hurdles to send money, by creating a wall of bureaucracy, to their families. Hence this notification should be immediately withdrawn as it will further collapse the economy,” Chodankar stated. We will face a scenario where the central government will harass people by sending notices to people living in Goa who receive funds from their OCI relatives abroad,” he added.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) issued the notification on March 4 dramatically altering the status of OCIs (including Non-Resident Goans). This notification, which is issued under Section 7B of the Citizenship Act, 1955, comes after three earlier notifications issued on April 11, 2005, January 5, 2007, and January 5, 2009, which laid down the rights of the OCIs.
The new notification introduces a series of new restrictions that dramatically curtails the rights and liberties of OCIs in India. These restrictions include a requirement for OCIs to secure a special permit to undertake any research, to undertake any missionary or Tablighi or journalistic activities or to visit any area in India notified as protected, restricted or prohibited.
Also the notification claims OCIs to equal to foreign nationals in respect of all other economic, financial and educational fields for the purposes of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 2003 although past circulars by the Reserve Bank of India under FEMA will hold ground. This reverses the position that has held for the last 16 years wherein OCIs were equated to Non-Resident Indians rather than “foreign nationals” for the purposes of their economic, financial and educational rights.
While Goa is the only state in the country that has a dual citizenship, this new notification seemingly deny people of Indian origin especially Goans living abroad their lifelong wish of dual citizenship and it severs the legal and emotional link they have to their motherland.
Chodankar further claimed that non-resident Goans abroad will now not be able to send money to their families in India without having to go through the hardships of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations. Also according to the new notification, Goan OCIs, especially those with Portuguese passports, will not be able to participate in religious activities such as organizing feasts and donating to temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras in Goa.
The Congress further claimed that after the new notification, children of OCIs will not be able to study in India at par with other Indian citizens.
The then Home Minister LK Advani piloted the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2003, through Parliament. The entire concept of OCIs was brought through the Citizenship Act, 1955, which is a legislation specifically meant to regulate the concept of Indian citizenship.