NEW YORK (TIP): INOC leaders met with Ministers of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Preneet Kaur and urged transparency and community input into selecting a replacement for BLS, the current vendor who has done a disservice to the community and the nation.
The team comprised of George Abraham (Chairman), Mohinder Singh Gilzian (Vice- President), Harbachan Singh (General Secretary), Sawaran Singh ( EC Member) and Juned Qazi (EC Member & M.P. Chapter President) met with the ministers and submitted a memorandum detailing the grievances of the community in dealing with the BLS, the visa processing agency that replaced Travisa.
The leaders also took the memorandum with media reports and submitted them to the External Affairs Ministry and to the attention of Salman Khurshid, the minister in charge who is said to have terminated the current contract with the BLS. ‘We have been candid to the ministers of the damage the agency has done to the reputation and credibility of India’ said George Abraham, Chairman of INOC.
INOC leaders George Abraham, Mohinder Singh Gilzian, Harbachan Singh, Juned Qazi and Sawaran Singh met with Ministers of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Preneet Kaur and urged transparency and community input into selecting a replacement for BLS, the current vendor who has done a disservice to the community and the nation. With Minister of State for External Affairs. (L to R): Mohinder Singh Gilzian, George Abraham, Preneet Kaur, Sawaran Singh and Harbachan Singh
‘We also cautioned the ministry about a re-packaged BLS under another name as this group seems to have quite a bit of political clout dealing with the Government’ Mr. Abraham added. The leaders also expressed their appreciation and support to the efforts of New York Consul General Ambassador D.M. Mulay to the Ministers and urged them to implement his recommendations.
According to some reports, envelopes that are containing passports and visa applications are lying around the BLS office for many weeks unopened creating so much havoc for the tourists and businessmen in their planning of trips to India. The uncertainty it has created particularly for the business travelers may have such a long lasting negative impact as many of them might have been considering India as an investment destination.
There are also allegations of corruption targeting the unsuspected visa seekers. The Ministry has not denied the reports that of the issuance of visas to people who may have received political asylum. In a letter addressed to the Minister of External Affairs, INOC leaders said the following: ‘We sincerely believe that an investigation is warranted upon the termination of this contract and a new Request for Proposals/Bids should be floated locally in New York and a contract awarded after a proper vetting by a Board which should perhaps have a representative from the local Indian Community as well’.