‘Govt Exiling My Son Is Not Just Wrong, But Evil’: Tavleen Singh

In a strongly-worded piece for The Indian Express, the prominent journalist said she was shocked by the move.

3 min read
Aatish Taseer was called a Pakistani for criticising Modi in an article in TIME Magazine.  

Lashing out at the Modi government’s decision to revoke her son Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status, prominent journalist Tavleen Singh said the move is “not just wrong, but evil”.

She equated it to the number of desperately poor people of Assam who have been running around trying to prove their Indian citizenship so they can have their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Penning a strongly-worded piece in a column in The Indian Express, Singh wrote that she expressed shock at the government’s move, considering she has always openly supported the prime minister.

“I still find it hard to believe that a prime minister whom I have openly supported for more than five years has allowed his government to exile my son.”
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

Setting the Record Straight

Recounting the order of events, she wrote about how three months ago, a notice had arrived from the Home Ministry “asking Aatish to explain why his status as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) should not be revoked on the grounds that he had not revealed that his father was Pakistani.”

She wrote that she wanted to show a document that proves that she, as the sole local guardian, had sought permission when she brought Aatish to live in India in 1982.

She wrote that his father Salmaan Taseer was a Pakistani national who also had a British passport and so when her son was born in London in 1980, British law granted him complete citizenship.

She clarified that she had cut all ties with him and Aatish hadn’t met his father till the age of 21. She wrote that it was the job MJ Akbar gave her at The Telegraph, and financial help from her ‘sister and friend Vasundhara Raje’ and Sonia Gandhi, that helped her raise her son.

‘Govt Exiling My Son Is Not Just Wrong, But Evil’: Tavleen Singh
(Photo: The Quint)

Revenge for an Article?

Tavleen Singh wrote that when she found out about the move to revoke her son’s OCI status, she tried to reach out to the Home Ministry. But when her calls were ignored, she realised that “somebody very high up wanted revenge on Aatish”.

“This had been a niggling fear at the back of my mind ever since he wrote that article in Time magazine that appeared on the cover with a distorted sketch of Narendra Modi and the words, ‘Divider in Chief’.”
Tavleen Singh in an article in The Indian Express
‘Govt Exiling My Son Is Not Just Wrong, But Evil’: Tavleen Singh
(Photo: The Quint)

Singh writes that she believes it was this article that catalysed the plot to exile her son. It began with Modi’s troll army going ‘ballistic’ and, she writes, “it was not long before Aatish was being described not just as a Pakistani but as an ISI agent and a jihadist”.

“The inevitable happened yesterday when Twitter was used to inform Aatish that he was no longer entitled to an OCI card because he had ‘lied’ about his father’s nationality. The truth is that neither he nor I have ever lied about it.”
Tavleen Singh in an article in The Indian Express

Singh expressed anguish that she was not even given a hearing to explain her stance.

Tavleen Singh in an article in <a href="https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/sending-my-son-aatish-taseer-to-exile6110639/">The Indian Express</a>
Tavleen Singh in an article in The Indian Express

Her son, novelist and journalist Aatish Taseer, had reacted to the government’s notice by penning another article in TIME, indicating that the revocation of his OCI status is retaliation by the Modi government for the first one. He wrote, “I had expected a reprisal (for the May article), but not a severing.”

He reiterated that, “India is my country. The relationship is so instinctive that, like an unwritten constitution, I had never before felt it necessary to articulate it.”

“Though I am a British citizen by birth, the OCI, as a substitute for dual citizenship, had made this bond even more real, as it had for so many people of Indian origin worldwide,” he wrote.

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