Foreigners applying for Indian visa will now have to declare their criminal records as a part of India’s new visa format. The decision to introduce such a provision for processing of visa applications of the foreign nationals was taken by the Union Home Ministry following a request from the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry.
In a series of tweets, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi confirmed that her request to revise the visa application process for foreign nationals travelling to India by requiring them to declare any criminal record has been accepted.
The move aims to ensure placement of protective mechanisms to prevent travelling child sex offenders (TCSOs) from entering India and perpetrating sexual violence on children here.
Hence, it aims to check child sexual abuse and a range of other crimes committed by travellers.
• Under the new format, an appropriate questionnaire and a declaration will be incorporated in the visa application form, which will have to be filled by the visa applicants.
• The step aims to be a strong deterrent for perpetrators of heinous crimes such as child abuse.
• India on account of its lenient visa rules has remained a favourite destination for child traffickers and paedophiles convicted in their countries of origin.
• There have been several instances where foreigners convicted of child abuse at home have travelled to India to run child sex rackets.
• The latest known crime involves an Australian, Paul Dean, who was convicted recently of abusing a host of differently-abled poor children from Vishakapatnam and Puri during his three-decade stay in India.
• In another instance, a US citizen John Jones was arrested recently by the Hyderabad police for circulating child sex abuse literature online.
India has been a witness to several cases involving worst forms of child abuse being perpetrated by travelling foreigners who were then not required to tell the Indian visa and passport authorities whether they had any criminal records back home.
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