New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj on Friday acceded to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s request for opening of another passport office in Nawanshahr to facilitate NRIs and their families in the Doaba region of the state, while assuring to look into the issue of the blacklisted Sikh youth settled abroad.
The issues came up for discussion when Captain Amarinder called upon the Union Minister here to inquire about her health in view of her recent kidney transplant.
During the brief courtesy call, Ms. Swaraj, in response to the Chief Minister’s concern on the issue, also promised all possible efforts by the central government to ensure the safety and security of Punjabis and Sikhs living abroad.
The Nawanshahr passport office will be in addition to the recently sanctioned passport office in Patiala, which is set to be inaugurated soon, a spokesperson of the Punjab government disclosed after the meeting.
The Chief Minister expressed concern over the delay in removing the names of the Sikh youth enumerated in the government’s blacklist for their alleged involvement in subversive or anti-India activities. These Indian origin Sikh youth are barred from visiting India on account of being blacklisted. Ms. Swaraj said she would take up the issue with the Home Ministry, which was in the process of gradually pruning the list of such youth.
The matter of racist attacks on Punjabis and Sikhs settled in various countries outside India also came up for discussion, with the Chief Minister urging the Union Minister to take up the matter at the international level to protect victims of such assaults. Ms. Swaraj said her ministry was cognizant of the issue and she had been personally pursuing the matter to ensure that Sikhs and Punjabis settled abroad are provided complete security by the respective governments of those countries.
The Chief Minister also raised the issue of setting up of Punjab-Israel working groups to boost cooperation for mutual benefit in the areas of security, agriculture and trade. The proposal to set up such groups had been made by Israeli ambassador Daniel Carmon at his meeting with Captain Amarinder earlier in the day. The Chief Minister, at his meeting with the External Affairs Minister, underlined the importance of such groups in the broader national interest.