Chidambaram Says Two-Month Visa Restriction Will Stay

Amid protests by some countries over tightened visa rules, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that tourists will not be entitled to get another visa within 60 days of their visit to India, adding 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.

He said that only a small number of tourists use India as a base to visit other South Asian countries.

The minister said that the exemption will be allowed after a thorough check no matter itinerary is indeed framed in this manner.

Chidambaram said that the Centre’s move would have a significant bearing on the tourism industry.

His 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.

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.

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