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India visa message to Nordic 3

New Delhi, July 12: New Delhi has clamped visa curbs on visitors from Denmark, Sweden and Norway in a message to all European Union member states not to treat India “unfairly”, highly placed sources said.

The move will affect people-to-people, business and official-level contacts with these three Scandinavian countries.

One immediate provocation has been Denmark’s continued refusal to step up efforts to extradite Purulia arms-drop accused Kim Davy, the sources said. But the larger issue is the failure of the Scandinavians and some other EU countries to treat Indian requests “on a par” with those from developed nations.

A list of Scandinavian nationals in India and of their activities is being compiled. The sources said Scandinavian citizens associated with NGO work in the Northeast, among tribals, and in Kashmir will come under the scanner and a few may be asked to leave if their activities are deemed to be against India’s interests.

The visa curbs, yet to be announced officially, have come into effect at the Indian embassies in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. Officials have been asked to refuse or delay visa applications from tourists, business people, NGO workers and officials —that is, nearly everybody who wants to visit India.

India knows this can hit ties with the EU. “But they need us more than they we need them. Their investments here create thousands of jobs in their countries,” an official said.

India had last August “frozen all cooperation” with Copenhagen after it refused to challenge in its supreme court a high court ruling against Davy’s extradition that cited India’s “poor jail conditions” and human rights record. It meant all ministries “stalled” their agreements and projects with Danish companies.

Now, the foreign ministry has asked officials not to “entertain” Danish diplomats, which means the scaling down of government-to-government ties is being extended to official-to-official contact too.

Davy, a Danish national, escaped from India after a Latvian cargo plane dropped a cache of arms and ammunition in Purulia in December 1995. Five Latvian crew members and Briton Peter Bleach were arrested but released years later. Davy surfaced in Denmark in 2007.

Norway angered India by repeatedly ignoring appeals for a speedy and sympathetic resolution of an NRI couple’s case to have their children, taken away and put in a foster home, returned to them.

Sources said Indian delegations and officials were treated casually in the three Scandinavian countries and sometimes in other EU nations.