Working Committee letter to Secretary on visas

Jun 7, 2022 | Blog, Processes by-passed, Statements by the RA and the Working groups, Visa threats

A letter has been sent on June 7th 2022 by the bona fide Working Committee of the Resident assembly to the secretary of the Governing Board  in response to the misleading reports made recently by the Office of the Secretary in regards to visas. This letter has been communicated to the Residents Assembly:
7 June 2022
Dear friends,
Please see below a letter sent to the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, in response to the misleading reports made recently by the Office of the Secretary in regards to visas. This letter includes the detailed number of visa requests made by Aurovilians and Newcomers to the Secretary, from December 2021 to May 2022.
We hope for a constructive way forward and will update you on any reply.
In community,
The Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly
Chali, Elisa, Gilles, Hemant, Juergen, Sauro
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Working Committee <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 at 11:48
Subject: Regarding issuing of visa recommendation letters
Cc: Auroville Foundation <[email protected]>, Working Committee <[email protected]>
Dear Madam Secretary,
We are writing in response to the incomplete reports made recently (i.e through this video dt. May 27, 2022) on the issuing of visa recommendation letters by your office. If left unaddressed, residents and the wider public would have a misleading impression of the real situation. We wish to highlight that Mother’s Auroville is explicitly an international township “where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world” (A Dream). It is truly a special gift to the world that this project to realise true human unity is hosted in Tamil Nadu, India and made possible through the issuing of appropriate visas. We hope and ask that a comfortable and transparent flow of visa recommendations can again be facilitated.
Aurovilians have faced exceptionally long delays in receiving recommendation letters by your office, without explanation or recognisable process.
In your ‘Message to the Community’ dt. May 27, 2022, it is stated that “there are zero cases where the visa recommendation letter says that the visa should be rejected or not be given.” Although this may technically be true, there is a failure to mention those long-pending visas to be issued. As a result of this, some residents who have followed all due process have had their visas expire unnecessarily and without any recourse, causing emotional, psychological and financial hardship.
The Working Committee records show that since December 2021, 281 visa applications for residents of Auroville have been submitted to your office as of May 25th, 2022. Out of these, 92 (33%) are still pending with 33 of these affecting Aurovilians who are unable to return to India and their lives in Auroville as a result. 40 long-term residents of Auroville (14%) who are eligible for 5-year Visas have been arbitrarily given reduced recommendations, a few receiving only 3 months, without any justification or any fair chances to explain themselves, as natural justice demands. 149 recommendations have been duly issued, albeit after considerable delays – which is only about half of the requests made to you and endorsed by the Working Committee.
In the past months, the Office of the Secretary has repeatedly ignored not only the communications and recommendations about visa matters, sent by the Working Committee duly established by the Residents’ Assembly, but also decisions of the Residents’ Assembly itself that have followed the approved process. Technicalities such as updating the Register of Residents, which is not generally used in community processes and is solely the responsibility of the Office of the Secretary and not the Residents’ Assembly, cannot justify such a position.
Recognising the fear instilled in parts of the community as a result of recent events, you have stated that “there is absolutely no reason to have any of these fears or apprehensions, concerns, because these are ill founded”. This should certainly be true, especially in Auroville, but it is sadly not the case. There are legitimate and well evidenced concerns of residents arising from the actions taken by the Office of the Secretary, with visas being just one such issue.
We remind you that as per the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988, the Auroville Foundation is constituted of three authorities, one of which is the Residents’ Assembly, represented by the Working Committee in its interactions with other entities. In view of this, a meeting with the Secretary and the Governing Board cannot be further delayed or refused as per the basic principles of the functioning of Auroville. We, as the Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly, continue to serve and represent the residents of Auroville and are committed to meaningful collaboration with the Governing Board and Foundation Office. We again request to meet with you to address serious and sensitive matters which are severely impacting Auroville and its residents.
Please note that this letter will be communicated to the members of the Residents’ Assembly for their information.
Yours Sincerely,
The Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly of the Auroville Foundation
Chali Grinnell, Elisa Goëta, Gilles Guigan, Hemant Lamba, Dr Juergen Axer, Sauro Mezzetti
Reminder: AVFO has blocked to reach accounts and vice-versa. We will fight this latest unjust and illegal action. Till then, we invite you to subscribe to our mailing lists using non-auroville email IDs.