Foreign nationals applying for Indian visas will now have to declare their criminal records as part of the new visa format approved by the Government to check child sexual abuse and a range of other crimes by travellers.
The move follows a specific request Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi made to Sushma Swaraj, her counterpart in the MEA, last June to ensure mechanisms to prevent travelling child sex offenders (TCSOs) from entering India and perpetrating sexual violence on children here.
India on account of its lenient visa rules has remained a favourite destination for child traffickers and paedophiles convicted in their countries of origin.
There have been several instances where foreigners convicted of child abuse at home have travelled to India to run child sex rackets.
The latest involved Australian Paul Dean convicted recently of abusing a host of differently abled poor children from Vishakapatnam and Puri during his three-decade stay in India in which he wore different hats--from a priest’s to a charity worker’s.
US citizen John Jones was recently arrested by the Hyderabad police for circulating child sex abuse literature online.
Past cases hav
e seen worse forms of child abuse being perpetrated by travelling foreigners who were hitherto not required to tell the Indian visa and passport authorities whether they had any criminal records, whatsoever, back home.
For instance, Raymond Varley, convicted in Britain of child sexual abuse in the 1970s hopped from country to country after his release ultimately making India his home. Here he ran a child sex abuse racket dating back to 1989 at a Goa orphanage. Varley fled India and continues to escape the domestic law.
“I am pleased to inform you that our request to revise the visa Application process for foreign nationals travelling to India to declare any criminal record, in view of prevention of sexual abuse of children, has been accepted,” Maneka Gandhi said on Monday.
She said it had now been decided that an appropriate questionnaire and a declaration would be incorporated in the visa application form which would have to be filled up by visa applicants and foreign nationals. The WCD Minister credited Home Minister Rajnath Singh with considering her request which, she said, was based on complaints of serial child sexual abuse offenders managing to visit India.
The step will certainly be a strong deterrent for perpetrators of such heinous crimes, Gandhi noted.
New visa rules: Qs foreigners must answer
*Have you ever been convicted by a court of law in any country?
*Have you ever been refused entry or deported by any country, including India?
*Have you ever been engaged in human trafficking/drug trafficking/child abuse/child abuse/crimes against women and financial frauds?
*Have you ever been engaged in cyber crime/terrorist activities/sabotage/espionage/genocide/political killing or other acts of violence?
*Have you ever by any means or medium expressed views that justify or glorify terrorist violence or that may encourage others to terrorist acts or other serious criminal acts?
*Have you sought asylum (political or otherwise) in any country?