By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 21: Tibetan refugees in India will experience more lenient regulations while obtaining stay permit as well as return-visa, the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration said on Wednesday citing a circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi.
The government of India has streamlined stay and travel regulations for Tibetans, CTA run Tibet.net said yesterday, and quoted the Tibetan President as saying, “Over the years, Kashag and the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been pursuing the matter with the Indian Government and on many occasion have diligently requested for provisions to ease travel for Tibetans holding Identity Certificate and to facilitate easy process for renewal of Registration Certificate for Tibetans living in India.”
Under the circular issued on Dec. 7 by the Home Ministry, stay permit for Tibetan migrants who possesses Residential/Registration certificate can be renewed for five years on each occasion or renewed on a yearly basis. “The present instructions of issuing five-year extension of Residential Certificate to those Tibetan Migrants, who have stayed in India for more than twenty years, will continue to remain valid,” the notice stated.
Also adding that the transfer of the R.C can be done online and normal cases of delay in renewal will be levied fines but in exception to serious offence where “stringent action like prosecution/imprisonment” can also be resorted to.
For travel and return visas, the official notice stated that, “Tibetan migrants, who wish to visit abroad, may be granted one-year multiple entry Return Visa which may be issued by FRRO/FRO, or Indian missions abroad. This one-year Return visa will be given to Tibetan migrants whose cases are recommended by the Central Tibetan Administration.”
The Home Ministry said that the circular will go into “immediate effect” and that concerned authorities have been sensitized to deal with Tibetan refugees with “dignity”.
The lax in bureaucratic red-tape associated with the procedures come as a welcome news for Tibetan refugees in the country. Over the years some Tibetans have also resorted to legally obtaining Indian citizenship and have filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL), prompting top Indian court to make it legal for some second generation Tibetans born in exile to obtain citizenship of India and doing away with the hassles of the stay and travel permits.
The issue of whether to retain the status quo of being a refugee or legally adopting India as one’s nationality is a much debated matter in the Tibetan community.