New Delhi, Mar 9 (ANI): Union Home Secretary G K Pillai on Tuesday denied charges of government being engaged in "thought policing" in the name of fighting terror threat but said certain measures need to be taken in order to maintain security of the country.
Earlier in February, the Home Ministry had issued instructions to all Central Ministries / Departments and chief secretaries of all state governments and union territories, advising them to strictly adhere to the revised procedure for grant of Conference Visa to foreign participants coming to India.
According to new guidelines-in the case of scholars from a list of eight flagged countries-Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan-or any scholar of "Pakistani origin", regardless of nationality, official vetting is necessary regardless of the "sensitivity" of the subject of the conference they have been invited to.
Addressing the panel discussion on "Thought Policing or Fighting Terror", organised by the Foundation for Media Professionals (CMP) here Pillai said the much debated conference visa norms are still under discussion at the government level and the Centre is ready to correct any norm, which was considered as a blockade to flow of knowledge.
" Ours is a learning and functional democracy. No body is perfect, it also holds good for the Government. If there are any mistake in the norm we are ready to discuss it and there is enough scope for correction," Pillai said.
He also clarified that the Government has no intention to restrict the flow of thoughts, but it is concerned about the security of the country.
"If you are organising a conference with the available resource person in India, we don't have any problem, but if you are inviting foreign scholars then we have to check his/ her background before letting them inside India," Pillai said.
He further added that the measures are being implemented to check Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and other Pakistani agents to visit India in different names.
" We are working out a policy where 'genuine scholars' can get entry into India without any problem," Pillai added.
Pillai also claimed that such vetting system is in force in many countries of the world.
"At least we are discussing our visa policy, many countries would not allow you to discuss visa policy as it come under severity," Pillai added.
He further said that when there are over 100 news channels and over 1, 000 magazines and newspapers in India, the question of thought policing doesn't arise.
He informed the panel that over 900 conferences were cleared in 2009, only two or three requests were rejected by the Home Ministry.
Commenting on necessary clearance from Home Ministry for eight flagged countries Pillai said: "The government has taken this decision as our 'hostile' nabour is getting a lot of inflow from these areas."
He assured the panel that Government is preparing a list of institutions, universities through out the world whose members and faculty can get direct access, can be put out side the conference visa norms. By Shreeraj Gudi(ANI)