New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday clarified that tourists will not be allowed to get another visa within 60 days of their visit to India despite protests by some countries about the rule being too stringent. However, he added that the rules can be relaxed in special cases.
“If the itinerary shows that the visit includes other neighbouring countries then the 60-day rule can be relaxed,” the Minister clarified, adding that there are only a miniscule number of tourists who use India as a base to visit other South Asian countries.
Chidamabaram said that the exemption will be granted after a thorough check whether the itinerary is indeed framed in this manner.
The minister further added that the move by the Centre will not affect the tourism industry significantly.
Chidambaram’s statement came after an ugly row involving two senior ministers of UPA.
On December 26, Minister of State for External Affairs Sashi Tharoor had questioned the visa rules as being too anti-tourists, inviting ire of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.
In his tweets, Tharoor questioned whether the new visa restriction would actually strengthen security as the "26/11 killers had no visas".
"Issue is not security Vs tourism, but whether visa restrictions protect our security. 26/11 killers had no visas," he wrote.
On November 4, the Home Ministry had issued a directive that foreign nationals having a long-term multiple-entry Indian tourist visa must have a mandatory two-month gap between two visits. Notably, the tightening of visa norms followed the unearthing of terror missions of Lashkar man David Coleman Headley, who had been given visa flouting rules.
The new guidelines sparked protests from the US and British governments, who told the Indian government to keep out terrorists not tourists.