Sikh-Americans ask Modi to resolve their passport, visa issues

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NEW YORK: A delegation of Sikh-Americans has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove the hurdles faced by them while applying for visas or renewal of passports, particularly by those who had applied for political asylum in 1980s.

"The NRI Sikh community feels alienated as Indian Embassies refuse them visas or do not renew their passports depriving them to visit their families and take care of their investment in India because they applied for political asylums during the turbulent times in Punjab," a 29-member delegation of the Sikh-American community said in a memorandum to the Prime Minister yesterday.

"We are hopeful that the Prime Minister would consider our request," said Jasdip Jesse Singh, who led the delegation.

The hour-long meeting discussed various other issues faced by the Sikh community.

"It was a historical visit as NRI Sikh delegation met any visiting PM from India after decades. Modi has renewed faith and hope in the NRI Sikh community that there issues as mentioned in the memorandum will be resolved," Singh said.

The memorandum states that NRI Sikhs are still being punished for applying for political asylum in order to legalize their status three decades ago.

"We request you to address the pressing issue in near future so that NRI Sikhs can also feel welcome in the process of building a new powerful India under your leadership," the memorandum said. The Sikh-American community also raised the issue of 1984 Sikh riots and the Sikh farmers in Gujarat.

The delegation congratulated the Prime Minister on the formation of the new Government, and the initiatives taken by the new Government.

The Prime Minister recalled the sacrifices made by the Sikh community for India. He also spoke about the "Make in India" initiative launched by him this week.

Some members of the delegation expressed concern over the spread of drug abuse among youth in Punjab. The Prime Minister shared their concern and said the Government would study the issue carefully and attempt to work out a solution.

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