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Govt values freedom of expression: Heehs

Chennai: A day after the Home Ministry extended his visa for another year, controversial US historian Peter Heehs today said he is grateful to the ministry for reviewing his case, "showing that the government values freedom of expression and diversity of opinion".

"I am grateful to the Home Ministry for reviewing my case and arriving at a decision that shows the government values freedom of expression and diversity of opinion within the framework of Indian law," Heehs, whose book on Sri Aurobindo created a controversy, told PTI through an e-mail.

He said the Puducherry Foreigner Regional Registration Officer had provided him necessary documents and endorsements on Friday following his application for extension of his stay. His visa expires on April 15. Heehs said he plans to leave the country briefly on April 15, using the ticket he bought in compliance with the ministry`s earlier order.

"I look forward to fulfilling a long-postponed speaking engagement in Europe and visiting family and friends in USA, I will return to India sometime in July," he said.

Heehs, an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry, had spent nearly four decades working on a project of digitisation and archival of works of freedom fighter and spiritual leader Aurobindo.

But following complaints of some followers of Sri Aurobindo that the American historian has allegedly depicted a distorted picture of the freedom fighter and spiritual leader in a biography, the FRRO had decided not to extend his visa.

Some historians had protested against the move of cancelling his visa and had also petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram for reconsideration of the decision.

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