(TibetanReview.net, Feb18’19) – A new directive issued by the government of India and circulated by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) requires all Tibetan children born or living in the country to register themselves as foreigners irrespective of age. This is a change from the previous practice under which such registration was required when a Tibetan child reached 16 years of age.
A directive issued Apr 25, 2018 by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has been reported to announce the change. A circular issued to all the Tibetan settlements by the Security Department of the CTA on Feb 11 requires the registration to be made online with supporting documents that include the applicant’s birth certificate, supporting letters from the concerned Tibetan welfare or settlement office and the CTA’s Department of Security, along with a passport photo.
A Registration Certificate (RC) in the form of a booklet has been done away with since some years ago when the process went online. The new, one-page document will be delivered through the applicant’s email ID after police enquiry and clearance. The RC also serves a residence permit but is nothing like a Green Card and does not give the holders rights and privileges reserved for citizens.
A steep increase in fines was announced recently for those who fail to renew their RC in time, with the minimum amount being Rs 21,600 (as the equivalent of US$ 300) for those who are behind by one to 90 days. The maximum is $500 for those who fail to renew their RC for more than two years. Renewals are given on yearly basis or for five years with additional paperwork.
Eligible Tibetans – meaning those born in the country between Jan 26, 1950 and Jul 1, 1987 and their children – have the option to get out of the RC rule by applying for a passport and thereby exercising their right to be recognized as Indian citizen. However, such Tibetans then cannot avail government of India benefits reserved for Tibetan “refugees”, which mainly means they cannot continue to live in the designated Tibetan settlements.
However, Tibetan applications for passport have not always been successful because of refusal by some passport offices or officers to accept the surrender of RC and the travel document called Identity Certificate (IC) issued on it despite an explicit directive from the government which cited court rulings as the basis for it.