Tuesday, June 09, 2020

OCI card holders from US face 'harassment' on arrival at Mumbai airport: Family members

Washington: The family members of five Indian-American couples having Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card have alleged that they were subjected to "harassment" by immigration authorities on their arrival at the Mumbai airport from the US.

The five couples arrived at the Mumbai airport on Monday as part of India's Vande Bharat Mission, the biggest exercise carried out by the Indian government to repatriate stranded citizens from overseas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certain categories of those having Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards are allowed to travel to India during the travel restrictions owing to the pandemic.

The OCI card is issued to people of Indian-origin, allowing them visa-free travel in most of the cases.

Immediate family members of these OCI card holders, on the conditions of anonymity, alleged that they were subject to “harassment” by immigration authorities at the Mumbai airport for seven hours after they landed from New York.

“An official told them they are probably not going to be allowed into the country and that the (Indian) consulate in US has no authority,” alleged a family member of one of these OCI card holders.

“Why are they doing this? After a gruelling flight and being separated from home for so long. Not to mention the additional risk of staying at the airport for longer than necessary,” the family member said.

The stranded OCI card holders at the Mumbai airport alleged that during the seven hours at the airport, they were not allowed to take any water or food.

In the first phase of the Vande Bharat Mission, the Indian Government had allowed repatriation of only Indian citizens.
09/06/20 PTI/Times of India
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