Britain takes up tourist visa plan issue with India


New Delhi: Britain has sought clarifications from the Indian government about the proposed tightening of rules for long-term tourist visas and stressed that the new policy can impact on Britons coming to India.

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British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg has written to India’s home ministry seeking clarifications about the proposed changes in the tourist visa regime.

“We discussed this matter with the government of India as there is no clarity yet over the details to the proposal,” a spokesperson of the British high commission said here Wednesday.

“We understand that the Indian government is reconsidering its plan. We shall be keeping a close eye as it develops as it has a potential to impact the large number of British nationals,” the spokesperson said.

India is mulling tightening rules for long-term tourist visas that will bar visitors from select countries from returning within two months in the wake of the arrest in the US of David Headley, a Pakistani American, suspected of involved in 26/11.

Under existing rules, tourists on long-term visas had to leave the country every 180 days. Many Britons used this facility to travel to neighbouring countries from India.

Headley reportedly travelled to India several times between 2006 to 2008 to help identify targets for the Mumbai attacks.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday announced schemes to bridge the gaps in the current visa system in the wake of the disclosures in the Headley case.