NEW DELHI: Academics attending an Asian studies conference in New Delhi have raised their voice to disapprove of the Indian government's decision to deny visas to four Pakistan-origin academics to attend the conference, reports have said.
The four academics, some of them Pakistani and the others dual citizenship holders, had been denied the visas back in February. This had been communicated to Ashoka University, which was the co-organiser of the AAS-in-Asia Conference. The meet is the Asian wing of the global conference conducted each year in the US by the Association for Asian Studies (AAS). This year's AAS-in-Asia conference come was held in New Delhi from July 5 to 8.
"The ministry has no objection from the political angle for the proposed event with foreign participants [except participants from Pakistan], as stated in your aforesaid communication, subject to the clearance of Ministry of Home Affairs as applicable and nodal ministry," the letter read, according to Pakistan daily Dawn.
Reports claimed about 80 academics, including the Pakistanis and some other who joined over teleconferencing, took part in a crowd-funded protest meeting against the denial of visas. They put forth four resolutions, one of which proposed that AAS no longer hold conferences in countries that exclude academics based on their nationality.
However, one of the organisers of the protest meet said the responses to the resolutions had been collected and no decision was been taken yet.
The Association for Asian Studies is a non-profit, non-political association of scholars who specialise or study Asia and its various aspects. It holds an annual AAS conference in the US, and has since 2004 held an AAS-in-Asia conference in an Asian city to create a platform for those who couldn't travel to the US. Ashoka University was this year's co-host for the conference, which was held in New Delhi.
The Ministry of External Affairs has been quoted in some reports as saying that several factors go into making a decision on whether or not to issue visas to nationals of a particular country, including the state of India's relations with that country.