December 28, 2009 4:23:56 am
Days after the government relaxed tightening of visa rules in the wake of the David Headley-Tahawwur Rana case,Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor,writing on social networking site Twitter,has questioned the move to make rules stringent,pointing out that 26/11 killers had no visas and asking whether the country would allow terrorists to make it less welcoming.
Is all that worth it just in hope of making it difficult for a future Headley to recce? R we going 2 allow terrorists 2 make us less welcoming? Tharoor wrote. Making it more difficult 2 visit India,return here frequently or stay long hurts large nbrs of innocents,costs us millions of$ & alienates. He noted that the more restrictive we become,the tougher it will be for Indians to travel freely.
Tharoors comments come at a time when the government,and his own Ministry,have already announced relaxation in the two-month cooling off visa rule for multiple-entry and long-term tourist visas which will require tourists to disclose their travel plans (with detailed itineraries) and ticket bookings for them to be allowed up to three entries.
The relaxation was made this week to guidelines issued on November 4 under which foreigners holding long-term multi-entry tourist visas would have to be out of India for two months before re-entering. And this relaxation came about after Tharoors Ministry took it up with the Home Ministry,in the face of protests from foreign missions,especially US and UK.
Issue is not security vs tourism,but whether visa restrictions protect our security. 26/11 killers had no visas, Tharoor wrote. Dilemma of our age: tough visa restrictions in hope of btr security or openness & liberality to encourage tourism& goodwill? I prefer latter, he wrote. No easy answers 2 such qsns (questions) Govt is
grappling with. But imprt (important) to recognize that security must not become an excuse 2 change our cntry (country) 4 d worse.
Earlier this year,Tharoor raised a storm when he referred to economy class in flights as cattle class in his tweets. The Congress dissociated itself from Tharoors comments and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot even asked for his resignation. Tharoor apologised,saying he meant it as a joke. After that incident,he was told by the Congress leadership,including Sonia Gandhi,to be careful while tweeting.
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