'Chilling message': India revokes citizenship of British writer Aatish Taseer who criticised PM Modi

8 November 2019, 18:50 | Updated: 8 November 2019, 21:53

The Indian government has been criticised for revoking the overseas citizenship of a British writer - in a move he called a "chilling message" by New Delhi.

US-based Aatish Taseer claims he is being made an example of after he wrote a critical article about Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi before he was re-elected.

The home ministry said Mr Taseer, 38, was now ineligible for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status because he did not tell them his late father was Pakistani.

Salman Taseer, a Pakistani politician who was also British, was assassinated in 2011.

Aatish Tasser has insisted his mother, Indian columnist Tavleen Singh, had always been his sole legal guardian and he did not have contact with his father until he was 21.

He added he was unsure what nationality he had listed for his father, who was also British, on his application form.

But he stressed he had never tried to hide his Pakistani links and wrote about his father extensively in a book a decade ago.

Now he has claimed the government had "weaponised" a technicality to punish him and fears he may not be able to see his mother and grandmother in India.

OCI status allows foreigners of Indian ancestry to visit, work and live in the country indefinitely.

He said: "I feel that anybody in my position has been sent a chilling message.

"What they have done is make an example of me. They are really showing that they are willing to go after writers and journalists."

He added: "I've not been given an opportunity to explain this."

Daniel Bastard, from press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders, said the decision was revenge for him criticising Mr Modi, whose ruling party is the BJP.

In his Time magazine article, Taseer wrote the PM had helped create "an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism" in India and failed to reform its economy.

Mr Bastard said: "The revocation of Aatish Taseer's Indian overseas citizenship is just another example of how the Indian government tends to intimidate every journalist who does not toe the line of the BJP's narrative."

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also urged the Indian government to reverse any decision to strip Mr Taseer's overseas citizenship.

The country's home ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.