Aatish Taseer was born in Britain and now lives in the United States. He moved to India at the age of 2, where he was raised by a single mother, Tavleen Singh, who is a noted Indian columnist.
India does not recognize dual citizenship. But people of Indian origin and their spouses can apply for a special status that confers many of the benefits of citizenship, including the right to live and work in India indefinitely. However, they are unable to vote or hold office.
Taseer held such status, which is known as an Overseas Citizenship of India card.
Late Thursday, a spokeswoman for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs wrote on Twitter that Taseer was “ineligible” for such citizenship because he had “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin.”
People whose parents and grandparents are or were citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh are not eligible for the special status.
Taseer did not meet his father, Salman Taseer, until he was 21. His father became a political leader in Pakistan and was assassinated in 2011 after he opposed the country’s anti-blasphemy law.
In 2009, Taseer published a book about his parents’ brief relationship that was widely reviewed in India. “I was living in India at the time, and at no time was my legal status ever questioned or challenged by the government,” he wrote Thursday.
The questions began, Taseer said, after he wrote a cover story for Time magazine during India’s national elections earlier this year. In it, he called Modi “at once an inevitability and a calamity for India.” Modi supporters and members of his Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the piece and attacked Taseer in personal terms.
Modi weighed in days after the article was published in May. Time is a “foreign” magazine and “the writer has also said he comes from a Pakistani political family,” said Modi, according to local news reports. “That is enough for his credibility.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs did not respond to questions about whether the review of Taseer’s citizenship status was linked to his critical coverage of the prime minister.
Taseer said that an Indian diplomat had informed him that he may no longer be able to receive any type of visa to enter India because of the government’s allegations that he engaged in misrepresentation.
“An example is being made of me,” Taseer said in an interview. “Anyone who has that connection to India had better be ready to never go back if they publish something that’s bold and critical of the prime minister.”
“I’m completely cut off from my mother, my family, my material as a writer, my grandmother who’s 90,” he said. “From one day to the next, you don’t have the country you’ve lived in most of your life.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to include more details about the Overseas Citizenship of India status.