NEW DELHI: Ahead of Punjab election, Prime Minister's Office has decided to scrap a 32-year old government decision banning visits to India by 212 Sikh Non-resident Indian families, sources said. These families were blacklisted from coming to India and they were never given visa to travel to any part of the country for last 32 years.
The ban was placed by then Congress government after Operation Bluestar in 1984 and the Kanishka bombings in 1985. It was aimed to keep away pro Khalistan elements that had fled to the United States, UK and Canada in the aftermath of the crackdown that ensued Operation Bluestar from India.
The operation was against the Khalistani militants hiding in the Golden Temple of Amritsar. The operation was carried out by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Sources said a committee headed by additional secretary of the home ministry had examined the blacklist, and 212 cases of a total of 324 were removed. The remaining cases are being examined and may be removed from the blacklist as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visits to the UK and Canada had seen several representations from Sikh NRI groups asking for reconsideration of the India travel ban.
Sources also said that the proposal to remove the ban was opposed by the Intelligence Bureau. But the PMO intervened, and a committee was set up after which Intelligence Bureau was asked to reexamine each case.
The family members of total 324 were never allowed to come to India for last 32 years as they had fled to UK, Canada and the US during pro Khalistan movement.
The decision is seen as Bharatiya Janata Party attempt to leave no stone upturned ahead of the crucial 2017 Punjab polls.