Khurshid challenges detractors of Rushdie’s visit

Salman Khurshid said anybody having objections to the provision of PIO not requiring visa to visit the country can take up the issue to courts.

Bareilly: With Salman Rushdie`s proposed visit to India kicking up a political row, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday 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

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.