Rushdie row: 'Those having objection to PIO should move court'

 
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Khurshid on Rushdie's proposed visit
Bareilly, Jan 11: With Salman Rushdie's proposed visit to India kicking up a political row, Law Minister Salman Khurshid today said anybody having objections to the provision of PIO not requiring visa to visit the country can take up their complaints with the competent authority or courts.

"This should not be made an issue. These are matters of normal processes of legal rights. There is not any special decision that is being taken by the Congress government anywhere either in the state or at the Centre," he said in response to repeated queries on the issue.

Noting that under the existing provisions, a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) can visit the country without any visa and that Rushdie could be possibly be trying to come here likewise, he added "but the implications of legal rights that overseas Indians have...can be tested before competent authority or before the courts, if the need be."

Khurshid, who is also Minority Affairs Minister and a key face of Congress in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, said that he has noted the "expression of concern" that has come from many quarters and will "definitely convey" it to the government.

Noted Islamic seminary Deoband has demanded for cancellation of Rushdie's visa even as the controversial author said he does not need a visa to come here.

Official sources have maintained 65-year-old Rushdie holds a PIO card which entitles him to visit the country without a visa.

Rushdie is not required to apply to any government authority to seek permission for his proposed visit to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival this month end, they have said.

Pointed out that even some Congress leaders have said that visa should not be given to Rushdie, Khurshid said the question of giving a visa did not arise nor was it given by the government.

"This provision is for all PIOs that if anybody has any family relations with India, they can visit the country without any visa...People of Indian Origin does not require visa. When the decision was taken, all political parties as well and people's groups had welcomed it.
"If people now want that the rule should be changed and that the PIOs should also require visa to visit the country, if some people have problem with it, it can be redressed at appropriate place. We cannot change law sitting here. If some body has objections, they should register them before the appropriate office of the government," he told a press conference here.

Khurshid also stuck to his stand on the issue of reservation for Muslim OBCs which created a controversy with the Election Commission issuing notices to him and his wife.
"The Centre gave 4.5 reservation to backwards among the minorities in the 27 per cent OBC reservation. So, should we hide what we have already given. We have a right to say what we have done. We had mentioned it even in our election manifesto (for 2009 Lok Sabha elections," he said.

Responding to the criticism by opposition parties that why the decision was taken just before the elections, the minister shot back "will we take decisions as per the views of others? We took a decision in the party when we thought it to do?".

The minister, however, ducked a query about his announcement to give 9 per cent reservation to OBCs among Muslims in Uttar Pradesh if Congress came to power there, which invited the EC notices against him and his wife.

PTI

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