India’s New Visa Penalty Discriminates on Religious Lines: Bangladesh

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Clarion India

DHAKA – A new visa regulation, introduced by Narendra Modi government about a year ago, has deeply irked Bangladesh as the Muslims of Bangladesh, are now paying a penalty which is at least 200 times higher compared to the Hindus for overstaying in India.

Describing the penalty structure as “discrimination on religious lines”, Bangladesh foreign ministry officials said that they will raise the issue in the upcoming bilateral talks, reported The Hindu .

The issue surfaced during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Kolkata visit about two weeks ago. Bangladeshi cricketer Saif Hasan had overstayed his visa. He informed the Deputy High Commission office in Kolkata, which in turn spoke to the FRRO.

The FRRO rules, posted on its website, noted that the “penalty of overstay” for “minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan” is ₹500 for more than two years, ₹200 for 91 days to two years and ₹100 for up to 90 days.

On the other hand, if the person who overstayed does not belong to minority community, then the charges are in dollars — $500 (₹35,000), $400 (₹28,000) and $300 (₹21,000) — for the same duration of overstay.

“This means if Liton Das (a Bangladeshi cricketer, a Hindu) overstays for a day, then he will have to pay ₹100, whereas if the person’s name is Saif Hasan, he will have to pay over ₹21,000, which is what Mr. Hasan paid,” said a senior Bangladeshi official .

Recently, the Deputy High Commission office staff had to raise funds to send a “poor Bangladeshi woman” back to her country. “She overstayed for a day and was asked to pay ₹21,000. She did not have money and we [DHC staff] had to raise the sum. Why should there be discrimination on religious lines?” the diplomat asked. Bangladesh is even more “hurt” as India’s new rule is equally applicable to Bangladesh and Pakistan. “Can India historically and morally bracket Pakistan and Bangladesh together?”

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