To Prevent Entry Of Foreign Nationals With History Of Child Sexual Abuse, Govt To Revise Visa Form
To check entry of people who have been involved in cases of child sexual abuse, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi declared that foreigners planning to travel to India will mandatorily have to fill up a questionnaire stating whether they have previous criminal records and if they have been denied a visa in the past because of any pending cases.
“It has now been decided that an appropriate questionnaire & a declaration will be incorporated in the visa application form which will have to be filled up by visa applicants/ foreign nationals,” Maneka Gandhi tweeted. She also thanked Home Minister Rajnath Singh for accepting the request.
“This step will certainly be a strong deterrent for perpetrators of such heinous crimes,” Gandhi added.
Travelling Child Sex Offenders
Cases of foreign nationals travelling to India with the intention of sexually abusing children, mostly from underprivileged backgrounds, are not uncommon. In fact, Travelling Child Sex Offenders (TCSO) are known to travel from place to place only to abuse vulnerable, defenceless children.
Among infamous TCSOs are Paul Dean, Ernest Macintosh, Paul Meekin, Richard Huckle, Raymond Varley, Eric Martin, and Jozef Achtergael.
During his 30 years in India, Paul Dean, an Australian national, posed as a doctor, a charity worker, and a priest, and sexually abused several physically handicapped and underprivileged children in Vishakhapatnam and Puri. For a case filed in 2001, a Railway Court in Vishakhapatnam convicted him in March this year, reported The News Minute. There has been no news of Dean after he was granted bail by the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Despite everything he did, he did not spend a single day in jail.
Ernest Macintosh, Paul Meekin and Richard Huckle allegedly travelled to India, sexually abused children and moved on to other countries. However, Raymond Varley was convicted in Britain in the 1970s for his heinous crimes, and travelled countries after he was released in 1980. He was found involved in an international child sexual abuse racket in Panaji, Goa.
A French national, Eric Martin, who was arrested in November 2010 from Chennai, fled France in 2000 after he was wanted in his country for sexually assaulting as many as nine minor girls.
Jozef Achtergael trained boys in a football academy in Kerala till 2008 and had served a punishment of five years in Belgium, his come country, for child sexual abuse.
The new visa-related law
The ministry of women and child development officials said that through the Bureau of Immigration which is under the purview of the ministry of home affairs, the implementation began a month ago, said a report by The Times of India. The MHA has now officially informed the WCD about the new visa application process to find out about criminal records of the applicants if any.
Chennai-based Vidya Reddy’s organization has been fighting for more strict visa regulations for a decade now. “I am very pleased. I believe it would make the deportation process easier as well. If a person has lied and not declared that they have a criminal record on the visa application, they can now be penalized immediately,” Vidya Reddy said.
Previously, India had no requirement for criminal record declaration. Notwithstanding criminal records, visa on arrival was introduced in 2014 for people coming from different countries at international airports.
“I think this will send a strong message to the TCSOs who have been looking at India as a honeypot until now,” Vidya added.
Following American citizen John Kirk Jones being arrested in Hyderabad for distributing child sexual abuse material online, Maneka Gandhi in June last year tweeted to ask External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to stop such criminals from entering India
The Logical Indian appreciates this effort to bring about a positive change in the country and saving children from the hands of abusers.