New Delhi, Jan 27 (PTI) India has relaxed a key condition to allow members of the Surinami-Hindustani community living in Europe to get Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card, according to an official statement.

Earlier, there was a limitation that OCI could be issued only to four generations of the original forefathers of the community who had migrated from India to Suriname, a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America.

Consequently, many young members of the Surinami-Hindustani community belonging to fifth and subsequent generations could not avail of this benefit.

As a result of persistent efforts by the Embassy of Netherlands, the government of India has decided that, henceforth, descendants up to sixth generation of the original Indian immigrants who had arrived in Suriname and later migrated to the Netherlands may be considered for OCI, the statement said.

An announcement in this regard was made by India’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Venu Rajamony during the Indian Republic Day celebrations in the Netherlands on Saturday.

He invited all members of Surinami-Hindustani community who do not have an OCI card to apply for the same at the earliest.

Rajamony also announced that because mandatory conscription was in force in the Netherlands prior to 1996, those members of the Surinami-Hindustani Community who were excluded from the OCI scheme can now apply for it, the statement issued by the Indian Embassy in The Hague said.

This (Indian government’s decision) will help integrate the largest Indian community in Europe even more closely with India, Rajamony told PTI.

The Netherlands has the largest population of overseas Indians in mainland Europe,majority belonging to the 2,00,000 strong Surinami-Hindustani community whose ancestors were taken as indentured labour from India to Suriname 145 years ago.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.