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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson, (July 05, 2018)

July 06, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good Afternoon and welcome to this weekly press briefing. Before we move to Q&A I have two read outs. The first is on the status of stranded pilgrims that are undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nepal route. It is important to distinguish between this route and the one which is organized by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Since the pilgrims got stranded at a couple of places in Nepal, Hilsa at the top and then you have other place which is called Simikot, our mission in Kathmandu has undertaken massive exercise to evacuate the pilgrims both from Hilsa and from Simikot. They have put teams on the ground at all places. In last three days, just to give you a sense of numbers involved, 883 pilgrims were evacuated from Simikot to Surkhet and also from Simikot to Nepalgunj.

Surkhet and Nepalgunj, they are closer to the Indian border where you have better facilities for the pilgrims. 675 pilgrims were evacuated from Hilsa to Simikot. 53 civilian flights were operated to get the pilgrims out and 142 chopper sorties were carried out.

Situation is fast returning to normal. We have around 50 pilgrims in Surkhet and 516 in Simikot. Evacuation efforts are still ongoing and we hope, if the weather holds, we will be able to get them out soon.

The second read out is on the state visit of His Excellency Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea to India. He is paying a state visit from July 8-11, 2018. This will be the first visit by President Moon to India. On the visit he will be accompanied by senior members of his cabinet, officials as well as industry captains. First lady Mrs. Kim Jung-sook will also be accompanying the President.

As far as his program goes, he will arrive in New Delhi on the evening of July 8. The next day he has engagements lined. EAM will call on him and so will the Vice President. He will then attend India-Korea Business Forum. On the same day Prime Minister and President Moon will together visit the Gandhi Smriti and they will also visit a Samsung plant which is located in Noida.

The main working day will be July 10. In the morning, as usual, there will be a ceremonial reception which will be accorded to President Moon and this will be followed by official level talks between Prime Minister and President Moon at Hyderabad House.

The two leaders will also address the India Arogya CEOs round table. We also expect some agreements to be signed during the visit. In the evening President Moon will meet Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji and Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji will also host a banquet in honor of the visiting dignitary.

President Moon will depart New Delhi in the morning of July 11. So this was the programing element of the visit.You may be aware that Prime Minister had visited Republic of Korea in May 2015 and during that visit the partnership got elevated to Special Strategic Partnership. Since then the relationship has expanded in several areas. Relations with Korea is a logical extension of our Act East Policy. RoK has new Southern Strategy, so there is a lot of convergence as far as our outlook is concerned and we expect to cover the usual bilateral, regional and global issues during the talks which President Moon will have with different dignitaries.

We expect the visit to open new avenues for expansion of our partnership particularly in the economic domain. RoK is a valued economic partner. Our bilateral trade last year surpassed $20 billion and investments are also rising. Korean brands are household names, as you are aware, in India and they are major contributors and partners in some of the initiatives which we have launched like Digital India, Skill India, Make in India etc.

A financing arrangement of $10 billion has been set by the RoK side for infrastructure development in India. We also set up a Korea Plus cell within India to fast track Korean investments in India. So this was the overall synopsis of the visit. We may have briefing on the visit and especially the outcome once the talks are over on the day. So I will not be taking questions on outcome itself as that we can cover during that briefing. We are looking forward to the visit of President Moon to India which will take our relationship to a new level. So these are the two announcements that I had. Now I think we can move to the Q&A round.

Question: My question is on Maldives. Maldives goes to election soon but we have seen a lot of political turbulence including former President withdrawing the name. Do you think the elections will be free and fair?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have been closely following the evolving situation in the Maldives. The announcement of elections in the Maldives at a time when the democratic institutions including the Majlis and the judiciary are not allowed to function in a free and transparent manner is indeed a matter of concern. We have urged the Government of Maldives to return to the path of democracy and ensure credible restoration of the political process and the rule of law, before the elections are conducted. It is important that a conducive atmosphere is created for holding free and fair elections in the Maldives.

Question: Has India decided to take back the two helicopters that Maldives wants India to return?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: See, last time I mentioned that we remain engaged with the government of Maldives on this matter and frankly, these are operational matters which are related to Ministry of Defense. But as I said we are engaged with the country on this matter.

Question: A media report suggest that Lucknow Passport Officer was incorrect or wrong in asking few questions to the inter-faith couple. Please clarify especially about their religion?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Are there any other questions on this aspect, the Lucknow Passport issue?

Question: Media reports mei ye bhi aaya hai ki Passport Niyamon mei likha hua hai ki agar passport ka form bharte hue yadi aap koi galat jaankari dete hain to unke khilaaf karyawaahi ki jaa sakti hai. To kya naye niyamon ke hisab se Passport Rules 1967 ko bhi kuch relax kiya gaya hai?

(It has also been reported in media reports that according to Passport Rules if anybody conceals or provides wrong information in the passport application form then action can be taken against the person. So has the Passport Rules 1967 has also been relaxed as per the new norms?)

Question: The MEA had asked for a report on the passport issue. So has the report come and what does it say?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye pichhale do hafton se ye prakaran chal raha hai. Tanvi Seth ko jo passport jaari kiya gaya aur media mein kaafi dushprachaar bhi faila hua hai. Main is maamle ke bare mein aapko silsilewar tareeke se jaankari dena chaahunga jisase hum tathya se kalpana ko alag kar sakein.

Tanvi Seth ne jo passport ke liye application submit kiya tha, unhone apna aavedan 20 June, 2018 ko Lucknow PSK mei jama kiya. Jo documents unhone prastus kiye, jo hamare pass they, usko humne bahut hi gambhirta se aur saavdhanipoorvak humne unki jaanch ki, jo hum hamesha karte hain, aur Passport Adhiniyam ke tahat jis uchit prakriya ka hamein paalan karna tha, uska paalan karne ke baad Tanvi Seth ko naya passport jaari kiya gaya. Chunki ye passport Post PV Basis ke aadhaar par diya gaya tha, Post PV Basis ka matlab Post Police Verification, iska matlab ye hota hai ki aap passport pehle le lete hain aur uske baad verification hota hai. Isiliye police satyapan baad mein hona tha, karaya bhi gaya. RPO Lucknow ko bheji jaane wali Police Janch Report December 2017 mein liye gaye us nirnay ke aadhaar par di jaani thi jismein kaha gaya tha ki Police Verification do binduon par kiya jaayega. Kya Aavedak Bharatiya Naagrik Hai aur Kya Aavedak Ke Khilaaf Koi Aapraadhik Maamla Lambit Hai, yahi do bindu they, jo naye passport form mei uplabdh hain.

In dono pehluon ko 6 binduon mein convert kiya gaya Passport Verification Form ke jariye. Is nirnay ke baad humne sabhi Rajyon aur Kendra Shaasit Pradeshon ko, unke DGPs ko 21 May avagat karaya ki ye hamara naya passport ka form hoga aur isko 01 June se isko implement kiya jaye.

Tanvi Seth ke maamle mei jo revised form ke tahat jitney bhi 6 bind they, us sambandh mein koi adverse report nahi thi. Kyonki sirf do pahlu they, Kya Wo Bharatiya Naagarik Hain aur Kya Unke Khilaaf Koi Aapraadhik Maamla Lambit Hai, usi ko convert kiya gaya tha 6 binduon mein. Un 6 binduon ke tahat jo police verification report hui usmein koi adverse report nahi thi. Lekin jis police adhikaari ne police verification kiya tha usne apni taraf se do tippaniyan jod di thi aur unke aadhaar par police jaanch report ko Pratikool shreni mein unhone rakh diya tha.

Ab main ye batana chahunga ki kaun kaun si tippani unhone ki thi. Pehli tippani unhone ye ki thi ki, ‘Passport Form mei aavedak ka naam Tanvi Seth diya gaya hai jabki shaadi ke certificate mein unka naam Saadiya Anas hai.’ Doosari tippani unke aawaas ke pate mein jo discrepancy thi uske baare mei ki gai thi ki wo Noida ke ghar mei rahti thi aur us ghar ka unke form mei koi ullekh nahi hai.

Main in do binduon ko spasth karna chaahunga. Jahan tak Marriage Certificate ka sawaal hai, agar aap Passport apply karte hain ya aapne kiya hoga to, humne jo simplify kiye hain over the last few years, humne kaafi simplify kiya hai process ko. Us process ke tahat marriage certificate document ki jaroorat nahi hai jab aap passport ke liye aavedan karte hain. Isiliye passport ke liye shaadi ke certificate mei jo naam hai wo prasangik nahi, wo relevant hai hi nahi kyonki us document ki jaroorat hi nahi hai.

Doosara bindu pate ke baare mein hai. Tanvi Seth ne apne naam aur pate ke saboot ke liye apna Aadhaar card aur joint bank account ke dastavej prastut kiye they jinmein unka naam aur pata wahi tha jo unhone apne passport application form mei bhare they. Isiliye jo Tanvi Seth ko humne passport issue kiya wo maujuda passport niyam ke tahat kiya gaya tha.

Main aaj ye spasht roop se kahna chahunga ki jo humne Tanvi Seth ko passport issue kiya, humne sabhi maujuda maanko ka paalan kiya hai. Mujhe ummeed hai ki iske baad ye maamla spasht ho jata hai aur iske baare mein jitna bhi dushprachaar hua hai, aur jo galat soochnaayein, dhaarnaayein hui, iske saath hi ye ab samaapt ho jaayengi. Question: Police Officer ne jo do observation diye they, unke naam ke baare mein aur address ke baare mein. Pehle to passport mein address ka verification maanga jaata thaa ki aap 5 saal tak yahan rah rahe hain ya nahi. Uske baarein mein MEA ka kya rukh hai, us tarah ki information kya ab aapko jaroori nahi lagti?

(The two observations made by the police officer regarding the name and address of the applicant. Earlier address verification was sought in passport application that whether you have been residing in this address since last five years or not. What is the position of MEA on that, do you think that this kind of information is not required now?)Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Wahi to maine abhi kaha ki ye jo rules hain ye simplify kar diye gaye hain. December 2017 mein hamne ye decision liya ki jo police verification form hai usko simplify kiya jaayega. Sirf do binduon par ham jaankaari maangenge, kyonki ye ongoing process hai simplification ka, Kya Aavedak (applicant) Bharatiya Naagarik Hai aur Kya Uske Khilaaf Koi Aapraadhik Mamla Lambit Hai. Inhi do binduon ko form mein 6 points mein convert kiya gaya hai. Isiliye unke pass marriage certificate hai ya nahi hai, wo address par rahete hain ya nahi rahte hain, wo is sandarbh mein relevant nahi hai.

(That is what I had said earlier that rules have been simplified. We took a decision in December 2017 that police verification form will be simplified. We will seek information on only two points and since simplification is an ongoing process, Is the applicant an Indian citizen and whether there are any criminal cases pending against them. These two things have been converted into six points. Hence whether they have a marriage certificate or not or whether they stay at the given address is not relevant in this context.)

Now let me read out the whole response to the Lucknow Passport issue in English.In the last couple of weeks, a lot of misinformation has been going around in the matter related to the issue of passport to Ms. Tanvi Seth. Let me take you through the case step by step in a factual manner as there is a need to separate facts from fiction.

Ms. Tanvi Seth submitted her passport application at PSK Lucknow on 20 JunePassport was issued to Ms. Seth after careful examination of the documents submitted and following due process as per the Passport Act.

Since the passport was issued on a post-PV basis, a police verification was carried out. The PV report sent to RPO Lucknow was to be based on a decision taken in December 2017 that PV will be undertaken only on two points – whether the applicant is a citizen of India and whether the applicant has any criminal case pending against him or her. These two aspects were converted in to a six point PV form. This decision was communicated to the DGPs of all states and UTs to implement the PV norms from 1 June 2018.

In the Tanvi Seth case, there was no adverse report on all six points mentioned in the revised form. The police officer doing the verification added two comments on his own based on which the PV report was put under adverse category.

The first point says that the name of the applicant in the passport form is Tanvi Seth while in her marriage certificate her name is Sadia Anas, and the second was a discrepancy in her address on the ground that her rental address in NOIDA is not mentioned in the PP form by the applicant.

I will clarify these two points. On the marriage certificate, under the revised passport application rules, there is no requirement for submission of a marriage certificate at the time of application of passport. Therefore, the name in the marriage certificate is not relevant to the issue of passport.

Second, on the address – Tanvi Seth had submitted her Adhaar Card and a joint bank account as a proof for her name and address which was the same as mentioned in the application form. Therefore, the issue of passport to Tanvi Seth was found in order based on the existing rules.

I would like to categorically state that all existing norms were followed during the issue of passport to Ms. Tanvi Seth. I hope this clarifies the matter and puts to rest all misinformation in this regard.

Question: National Carrier Air India ne apni website par Taiwan ka naam badalkar Chinese Taipei kar diya hai aur is baare mein Air India ki taraf se jo release jaari kiya gaya hai usmein bataya gaya hai ki Ministry of External Affairs ne aisa nirdesh diya tha aur ye uske baad hi kiya gaya hai. To mera sawaal hai ki kya aisa nirdesh diya gaya aur agar diya gaya to uske peechhe kya wajah thi? Aur dusra sawaal hai ki kya hamari One India Policy ko hamari tarah kya China bhi maanane laga hai, us baare mei koi baatcheet hui hai?

(National Carrier Air India has changed the name of Taiwan to Chinese Taipei in its website and the release which Air India has issued in this regard states that it has been done as per the directions issued by Ministry of External Affairs. My question is, whether the directions were issues by MEA and if yes what were the reasons behind it? My second question is has China started to recognize our One India Policy just like we did and has there been any discussion on this?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye main ye bata sakta hoon ki jo Air India ka decision tha (I can tell you that the decision of Air India is )This is entirely consistent with the international norms and our own position on Taiwan since 1949. Air India’s decision to rename the destination of Taiwan and Chinese Taipei is entirely. consistent with international norms and our own position on Taiwan since 1949

Question: A few months ago the Ministry of Commerce has decided to nominate Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador to China and they passed on the decision or the request to the Ministry of External Affairs. Are you aware of this, is that likely to happen and if so, when?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You are saying that this is the decision of Ministry of Commerce and still you are asking the question to the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. But I do remember that when Prime Minister was visiting Wuhan this news did come up but I think this is something which you will have to check with Ministry of Commerce. I don’t have any independent information which I have received from Ministry of Commerce in this regard.

Question: There is a report that an American delegation is coming to India to talk about the implications of their withdrawal from the JCPOA. First question is, is it true and if it is true what will be our position and if there will be more representations other than the Ministry of External Affairs?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think you are referring to a statement made by the State Department. I don’t think there was any specific mention about any country in the statement. What the officer had mentioned in his remarks is that they are prepared to engage in discussion with various countries in this matter. When the question was put across to him regarding exemptions which can be granted to specific countries he had mentioned that we are prepared to engage in discussion with various countries in this matter. At this stage I am not aware of any confirm dates for this discussion.

I presume that as and when the discussion takes place, you will have representations from different concerned ministries. I am sure MEA will be there, you will also have representatives from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas which is the nodal ministry in this regard as well as other ministries which are relevant to this matter. I can share that we are prepared to take all necessary steps including engagement with all stakeholders. I had mentioned about ensuring our energy security.

We will have to see how we go about doing that. I think it is vital for our economic growth and we will see how the steps which we take, the discussions which we have and the engagements which we have to undertake to ensure that we maintain the energy security of the country.

Question: As you told that the renaming of Taipei was consistent with our previous position but what prompted to change it now?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I think you will have to see the nomenclature which is being used by the international airlines all over the world. It is difficult to answer why now, it is something which Air India can answer but I have very explicitly given you our position that what they have done is entirely consistent with International norms, which explains your observation and also it is in line with our own consistent position on Taiwan which we have since 1949.

Question: There are reports that Maulana Masood Azhar par koi naya dossier hum UN ko usko Rule 1267 mein enlist karne ke liye dene wale hain, is it correct, us par koi information agar aap de sakein?(There are reports that we will be submitting a new dossier to UN for enlisting him according to the regulations of 1267 Rule, is it correct and can you provide some more information on that?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I just saw the report on television as I was preparing my folder. I can only say that we will continue to make all efforts to bring terrorists and their entities operating out of Pakistan under the sanctions of regime of UNSC 1267. It is a power tool which is available to the global community which can be used to cripple terrorists and terrorist entities which are operating anywhere in the world.

Question: External Affairs Minister, General V K Singh, M J Akbar, they met with the Sikh delegation on Monday, did anything come out of it in view of the latest attack that we have seen in Jalalabad vis-à-vis the Sikh community there? Number two, any word on the missing seven Indian engineers who are still untraceable?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The meeting which you are referring to it was not only attended by the two Ministers of State, External Affairs Minister was herself present. Basically we strongly condemned the attack on the Afghan Sikhs which claimed 13 lives and we also expressed our condolences to the family members. The delegation which had come to meet EAM and the Ministers of State comprised of SGPC officials. They also had some relatives of people who were killed in Afghanistan. We heard them out. They had certain concerns about the security situation in the country.

What I can say is that the government has accorded top priority to the issues of persecuted minorities in the neighborhood and we have taken up this matter with them. We have taken measures to alleviate their condition. There are certain requests which came to us and which fall into the domain of Ministry of Home Affairs and we also did suggest to them that they should also meet somebody in the Ministry of Home Affairs to voice those concerns which are related to that ministry.

On your question about the seven Indian nationals which have been kidnapped, I have said multiple times that we are trying our best. We are engaged with all parties who could be of help in this matter. Minister herself is monitoring the situation very closely. We do not want to divulge too many details on this forum as it is a sensitive matter and it involves the lives of people who have been abducted and I seek your understanding on this.

Question: Pradhanmantri Narendra Modi ki China Yatra ke baad dono deshon mein aapasi taal-mel badh raha hai. Haal hi mein PLA ka ek pratinidhimandal aaya hai Bharat, us baare mein koi aur jaankaari mil sakti hai ki, aagey kya hoga aur kis tarah ka taal-mel ho raha hai dono deshon ki senaon ke beech mein, agar aap jaankaari de sakein.(After the recent China visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the coordination between India and China is rapidly improving. Recently a delegation from PLA has visited India, can you provide some more information regarding that? What will be the way forward, how are we coordinating between the armies of the two countries, can you provide some more information on the issue?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye, ek to bahut jaahir si baat hai ki jo Wuhan Summit hua uske baad jo strategic guidance dono netaon ne diya apne deshon mein aur uske baad relationship ka mahoul jo improve hua hai wo to alag hai hi.

Jis delegation ki aap baat kar rahe hain, ye main bata doon jo Wuhan Summit hua jismein hamare Pradhanmantri China gaye they aur uske baad jo rishtey mein madhurta aai hai aur jo unhone strategic guidance di hai, uske baad jag jaahir hai ki rishtey bahut badle hain. Jahan tak is delegation ka sawaal hai wo hamare ek ongoing mechanism hai exchange of high level military delegates aur hum usko encourage karte hain. Main batana chahunga ki isi kadi mein China ke Raksha Mantri is saal ke ant mein India visit par aayenge.

The delegation that you are talking about that was part of high level ongoing military exchange between India and China. We do look forward to and we encourage such exchanges including the visit by the Defense Minister of China to India later this year.

Question: There are reports India wanting to discuss Indo-Pacific and open a maritime dialogue with China. Can you comment on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: At this stage I cannot confirm on the reports which are appearing on a section of the press.

Question Contd.: Is there anything that MEA is doing on Zakir Naik. There were reports yesterday that he is flying back to India and then he denied.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Let me see if I have something on Zakir Naik. I think I had announced from this forum that we had made a formal request for the extradition of Zakir Naik who is an Indian national living in Malaysia and this is as per the extradition treaty which we have with the Malaysian side.I can tell you that at this stage our request is under active consideration on the Malaysian side. Our High Commission in KL is in regular touch with the relevant Malaysian authorities in this regard.

Question: Regarding Kailash Yatra Pilgrims, could you share the exact number of pilgrims who have returned to India and how many days it will take to bring back the rest of the pilgrims?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think we have to understand that there is no crisis situation. It just happened because of weather packing up and if you see that advisory which we have put on our website especially for the pilgrims which are taking the Nepal route.

There is always a chance that when you are going through some of these points that weather could pack up so it is not a crisis situation or situation where massive scale of evacuation is required. It just happened that the civilian aircrafts which were supposed to operate on those sectors they could not do so because of adverse weather condition.

Now when people go and do the Yatra and they come back. There are different points which they use as the base. Simikot is one, Hilsa is another one, so we have been trying to bring people back from the forward areas to a place where there are more facilities. Now getting them out of those places, for example Nepalganj. Now in Nepalganj there is no crisis situation. It is just a matter of people taking up bus or whatever means and coming back to India. It is difficult to tell you exactly when they will come.

As I mentioned earlier that this is a Yatra which is conducted by private tour operators. We are working through these private tour operators. They are the ones who will make arrangements for their coming back to India but I must tell you that as we speak there are also pilgrims who are going up. So it is not something which has stopped. So we need to see the situation in that perspective.

Question Contd.: ………….. Inaudible ………………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Yes, that is what I mentioned that we organize KMY through two routes, Lipulekh and Nathula and none of them go via this route.

Question: Nepal-Kathmandu Kailash Mansarovar Yatra ke liye kya Rahul Gandhi ki taraf se Videsh Mantralay ko koi aavedan praapt hua hai kya ya unko advise kiya gaya hai ki filhal ye route.(Has MEA received any application from Rahul Gandhi regarding their visit to Kailash Mansarovar through Nepal route? Or you have given any advice regarding that route?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jaisa maine pichhale saptaah bataya tha aisa koi bhi application ya letter ya koi bhi intimation hamare pass unki Yatra ke liye nahi aaya hai.(As I informed last week also, we have not received any application or letter or intimation regarding his visit.)

Question: Will MEA recommend any action against the police officer who had gone beyond his mandate in asking or reporting the verification process?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think I can only tell you that the transfer is an administrative decision and I think there is nothing further which I can add to that.

Question Contd.: I am talking about police official.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: That is what I am saying that whatever had to be done it will be an administrative decision. From this forum I have shared the big picture and I have given you the facts of the matter.Thank you very much. With this we conclude our weekly press briefing.

(Concludes)

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