In what could balloon into a huge controversy, Ms. Anne Graham Lotz, a U.S. Evangelist, and daughter of Billy Graham seems to have violated Indian visa norms by attending a religious program in Hyderabad. Despite a court order and many public complaints, she attended the event named “Telangana State & National Prayer Day” organized by Christian Council of Telangana and Supported by Telangana State Government at Secunderabad Army Grounds on 5th January and delivered open Christian religious speech.
As per Indian immigration rules, foreigners with any type of Visa are NOT allowed to preach and propagate their religion in India. And Government of India shall NOT issue Visas to evangelists who desire to come to India to attend religious events. Ministry of Home Affairs stated the same in its reply under Right to Information Act 2005 (see Letter 1 below).
Ms. Anne Graham Lotz was specially invited to this event along with two others, as a Chief Guest by Telangana IT Minister Mr. K Taraka Rama Rao (see Letter 2 below).
Was it good optics on part of Mr. Taraka Ramarao (son of the Chief Minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao) to send this invite to Ms. Lotz? Is he not aware of the rules in place? If this is bad optics, there is more…
D Rajeswar Rao, a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) party wrote to Hon’ble Minister of Defence, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, requesting permission for the event at Secunderabad Army Grounds which belongs to the Indian Army. In his request letter sent on 9th Sep 2017 to Defence Minister, he did not state clearly that there were 2 Christian events (on the 5th and 7th). Rather the letter states that there will be Swachh Bharat Prayer Event for the welfare of State and Nation. He wafts around the fact that she is also going to be at two Christian gatherings. As per the rules, permission will not be provided to conduct Religious and Political Events at Secunderabad Army Grounds (see Letter 3 below).
A Complaint has been filed by Shiv Shakti organization to Defence Estates Officer of Telangana Region, requesting the cancellation of permission to this illegal event. And filed another complaint to Foreigners Regional Registration Officer of Hyderabad and Deputy Commissioner of Police, North Zone, requesting prevention of misuse of Indian Visa.
Also filed a writ petition in Hon’ble High Court to stop the illegal event. Court has directed Government of Telangana to make sure that visa violation should not happen.
Despite all these, Government of Telangana allowed Ms. Anne Graham Lotz to participate in the event as a principal speaker. Mr. Nayini Narasimha Rao, Home Minister of Telangana has accompanied her in this prayer. The point to remember is that the elected legislative members supported this visa violation activity and compromised with national Sovereignty for their political gains.
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