Blacklisted by India, New Zealander vlogger's Indian wife approaches High Court

Blacklisted for allegedly entering India on a tourist visa and conducting ‘business’ and accused by the right wing of being a Pakistani spy, the New Zealander complains he is not being heard

Blacklisted by India, New Zealander vlogger's Indian wife approaches High Court

Sanjukta Basu

‘Why have I not seen my wife in 269 days’ asks New Zealand based YouTuber and travel enthusiast Karl Edward Rice, who goes by the name Karl Rock and hosts a channel with that title.

Speaking in Hindi and English, he claims to be a content creator who has travelled to every state and Union Territory in India. He makes video blogs about travelling and guides visiting foreign tourists stay protected from “scamsters”.

He claims to have met his wife Manisha, an Indian citizen who lives in Delhi in 2014, and got married to her in April 2019. But he has not been able to see his wife or in-laws in Haryana’s Hasi village because the Government of India has placed him on a black list and cancelled his Visa. His grouse is that he has not been informed the grounds for such action and no opportunity to present his case.

He and his wife claim to have made several attempts to figure out why he is on the blacklist but have received no response from officials. Repeatedly referring to India as his “home”, he expresses deep concerns for his wife, who he says has moved the Delhi High Court challenging the blacklist as “arbitrary and unreasonable”.

The video has been viral on social media and received more than a million views. Most of the comments are sympathetic with people pointing out his love for India and the boost he provides to tourism in the country.

He also took to Twitter to reach out to the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with an appeal to watch his YouTube video. “Dear @jacindaardern, the Govt. of India has blocked me from entering India, separating me from my wife & family in Delhi. They blacklisted me without telling me, giving reasons, or letting me reply,” Karl wrote on Twitter.

News agency ANI, which is perceived to be close to the Indian Government, quoted unnamed officials saying that the blacklisting was done due to multiple visa rules violation. “New Zealand origin vlogger Karl Rock has been blacklisted by the Government of India for violating multiple visa norms, he was found doing business on a tourist visa, he is barred for one year, his visa is cancelled,” ANI Tweeted.

Netizens sympathetic to him claimed he had been blacklisted for participating in anti-CAA protests. Right wing propaganda website Op India and popular right wing Twitter handles have been calling him an ISI agent.

According to past Supreme Court precedents, while the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution is available to both Indian citizens and foreign nationals, the right to reside and settle in India is not available to foreigners. The Union government’s power to expel foreigners is absolute and unlimited and there is no provision in the Constitution fettering this discretion.

Questions are now being raised whether such absolute discretions need to be tempered. Whether there is a need for giving a chance to foreigners expelled or blacklisted to appeal against such orders and allow them to be heard.

The Union Government’s decision to blacklist 2500 Tablighi Jamaat members for 10 years was challenged before Supreme Court by 34 foreign nationals last year. The same lawyer who represented them has now been engaged by Karl Rock to pursue his legal challenge.

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