Government on Friday extended the visa of controversial US historian Peter Heehs for one year, ignoring calls to deny him continued residence after some groups objected to his portrayal of Sri Aurobindo.
Heehs has been informed about the extension that will allow him to stay in India till April 15, 2013. Several prominent authors, intellectuals and academics had protested the move to deny him an extension on his visa.
The case reached the desk of Union home minister P Chidambaram last month, when Heehs' request was rejected by the local Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Puducherry in the wake of a number of complaints against him.
The decision was seen as discriminatory and uncalled for as Heehs has spent over four decades in India as part of a team that archived works of Sri Aurobindo and authored several books on the spiritual leader.
It is learnt that since the author has already booked his ticket for traveling out pending his visa extension application, he would probably leave for sometime and then return.
"There is no restriction on him nor on his stay till his visa expires on April 15, 2013. Heehs is even eligible to apply for his visa extension again next year," said an official. The government would hope that the attention around Heehs would have subsided by the time he returns to India.
Heehs, whose visa was to expire on April 15, had applied for extension of his travel document before the Puducherry FRRO. The matter was subsequently referred to the home ministry's foreigners division which takes final view on such matters.
Besides, a number of petitions - both in favour and against his visa extension - had also been sent to Chidambaram, who took the view in favour of the US author in consultation with officers concerned and the existing law.
"There was nothing against the author which could deny him visa extension as per the existing law in India", said the official... [read at The Times of India]