NEW DELHI: After the political outrage in Assam over the government move to modify visa rules for Bangladeshis, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has rejected the Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) proposals regarding granting visas-on-arrival to Bangladeshi nationals and a visa-free entry to citizens of that country under the age of 18 and over the age of 65. However, it did not object to the third proposal - “Long-term multiple-entry tourist visa for children under 18 years and those over 65 years”.
According to the MHA officials, the MEA had asked the Ministry to give its opinion on the two issues as part of the tentative agenda, covering the list of possible deliverables, during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Bangladesh from June 25 to 27. The MEA had also requested comments from Cabinet Secretariat and Bureau of Immigration on this issue.
“We have rejected outright two proposals related to visa-on-arrival and visa-free entry to certain age groups. This decision has already been communicated to the MEA,” officials said, adding that the MEA had also sought comment from Assam Government, which seized the opportunity to create further controversy.
Last week, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had opposed the move, while slamming the NDA’s move to relax visa norms for Bangladeshis, saying that Nepal-type of visa norms will be difficult to manage. The MHA officials said the third proposal of long term tourist visa for certain age groups can be considered, subject to certain conditions.