European embassies insult Indians: Indian Overseas Congress

June 12th, 2008 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 12 (IANS) The Indian Overseas Congress has accused the visa offices of Schengen embassies in London of insulting Britain-based Indians who wish to visit their countries. Residents of the 24 European member-states of the Schengen Treaty are free to travel among these countries.

Although Britain and Ireland are not members of Schengen their citizens do not need a visa to travel in Europe because both are members of the European Union.

But Indian citizens who are resident in Britain find it difficult to travel to the Schengen countries, and have to face frequent harassment at European embassies in London, said Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) general secretary D.L. Kalhan.

“The hawkish attitude of the Schengen missions here not only borders on the insulting but restrains educational and professional practices,” he said in a letter to the British parliament’s Business and Enterprise Committee this week.

The committee in May urged the British government “to explore with Schengen countries how the visa regime for Indians resident in the UK and needing to travel to other European Union countries could be eased, or periods of EU visa validity extended considerably.”

Kalhan, in his letter to committee chairman Peter Luff, said Indians are “ill-treated by the consulates of Schengen countries in the UK.

“The US administration has been routinely issuing 10-year multiple entry visas to the same Indians for more than a decade. The Swiss government permits 90-day visa-free visits to Indians who are resident in the UK.

“Norwegian regulations allow a multiple-entry visa for one year and a stay of a maximum 90 days over a period of six months.

“If such governments can repose their trust and be none the worse for it, there is no reason why Schengen countries cannot do the same.”

The IOC said Britain-based Indian professionals who are expected to travel to European countries for work purposes are unable to do so at short notice.

“This is grossly unfair to the Indians concerned, who are tax payers and voters in the UK and deserve movement (rights) within the European Union,” the IOC said.

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