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Cong accuses Modi of double standard on Goa OCI issue

Panaji

22-December-2019

The Congress in Goa has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of double standard by making a public show of handing over the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card to Antonio Costa, Portugal Prime Minister of Goan origin, in 2017 and then putting the fate of Goan Portuguese passport holders in peril.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, state Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah's announcement that National Register of Citizens (NRC) will implemented across India would put thousands of Goan Portuguese passport holders and those who have availed of Portuguese national identity card, the 'Bilhete de Identidade', in a quandary.

"On the one hand the Prime Minister made a grand spectacle in 2017 by handing over the OCI card to Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa who is of Goan origin. On the other hand, the NRC is creating terror in the minds of the thousands of Goan Portuguese passport holders and their family members," D'Mello said.

Costa was handed the card during his official visit to India in 2017.

Referring to recent comments made by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who said that Goans need not worry about the introduction of NRC because of "special arrangements" made for the residents of the coastl state, D'Mello said: "What are the special arrangements? Is it that they will not shove people into detention camps like Assam or you will have AC detention centres?"

Goa, a Portuguese colony for over 450 years, gained independence from Portuguese rule in 1961. The departing Portuguese, however, offered Goan natives to choose Portuguese citizenship.

The privilege of availing Portuguese citizenship was later granted to Goans who had lived in Portuguese-ruled Goa, as well as their off-springs up to three generations down the line.

Thousands of Goans have used the opportunity to migrate to Portugal and subsequently to the UK, thanks to the easy access across countries under the aegis of the European Union. A significant number of expat Goans have also availed of the 'Bilhete de Identidade', the Portuguese national identity card, which takes the applicant a step closer towards obtaining Portuguese passport.

Rough estimates suggest that up to 30,000 Goans are living in the United Kingdom, using the Portuguese citizenship route.IANS