Rushdie does not need visa, has PIO card: Khurshid

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    New Delhi, (IANS) Amid the controversy over the visit of Salman Rushdie, union Law Minister Salman Khurshid Wednesday said the concern over the visit will be conveyed to the government but noted that the author does not need a visa to come to India.

    He said anybody objecting to the provision of People of Indian Origin (PIOs) not requiring visa to come to India can move court against the provision.

    Meanwhie, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he did not think the visit was an election issue for Muslims.

    Rushdie, 65, who holds a PIO card, was not required to apply to any government authority to seek permission for his visit to Jaipur Literature Festival this month- end, reports said.

    Speaking on the matter, Khurshid said: “This should not be made an issue. These are matters of normal processes of legal rights. There is not any special decision that is being taken by the Congress government anywhere either in the state or at the centre”.

    Addressing the media at Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly city, he said “a person of Indian origin” can visit the country without visa and “Rushdie can come here likewise”.

    “But the implications of legal rights that overseas Indians have … can be tested before competent authority or before the courts, if the need be,” he added.

    Khurshid said the “expression of concern” in several quarters would be “definitely conveyed” to the government.

    India’s leading Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, has demanded cancellation of Rushdie’s visa for allegedly offending the sentiments of the Muslims in his book, “Satanic Verses”.

    In Jammu, Abdullah said “there were not many Muslims in India for whom visa to Salman Rushdie will be an election issue”.

    “I think we underestimate the intelligence of Indian Muslims when we try and raise issues like this which has a no bearing on the day-today concerns of Muslims,” he said.

    “Is this the first time Rushdie is coming to India. As far as I know he has come before this also,” Abdullah said.