YouTuber Karl Rock, Married to Indian Citizen, Blacklisted and Barred From Entering India

The home ministry said Karl Rock violated the terms and conditions of his tourist visa by doing "business activities".

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Jammu: On Friday night, a content creator from New Zealand, who goes by the name Karl Rock on all his social media channels, posted a video on the internet seeking help from his followers to unite him with his Indian-origin wife Manisha Malik, who is currently in New Delhi.

He described how he hasn’t been able to see his wife for the last eight months, even when she was down with coronavirus for the second time this year, because his visa was blocked by the Indian government and he was barred from entering the country. Karl is currently in New Zealand.

In the video, Rock said he learnt about this development only upon leaving for India from Dubai in October 2020, and is clueless why this action was taken against him particularly. He also appealed to people on the Internet to sign his petition on change.org.

While there was initial speculation that the YouTuber may have been blacklisted for participating in anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests, it is unclear if that was the reason.

On Saturday, he and his wife moved a petition before the Delhi high court to get him removed from the blacklist.

After his appeal video travelled the Internet for almost a day, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which oversees visa policies, told the Times of India that Karl Edward Rice (which is his name in official documents) violated the terms and conditions of his tourist visa by doing “business activities” in the country. He has been restricted from entering India till next year, the newspaper reported.

When contacted by The Wire, Karl Edward Rice declined to comment on the matter as it has reached the courts. “Now that it’s going to the Delhi high court, we can’t comment until that’s done,” he said.

In his appeal on change.org however, Karl mentions in detail how he learnt about his blacklisting.

“I left India to go travel to Dubai and Pakistan in October 2020 and upon leaving they cancelled my visa at the airport. They wouldn’t tell me why. So in Dubai I applied for a new visa. They called me in for a meeting and told me I had been blacklisted and therefore they couldn’t issue me a visa to go home. Before someone is added to the Blacklist they’re meant to be given the reason, and time to reply. I wasn’t,” he writes.

Allegations of doing business activity while on tourist visa

It’s unclear what kind of business activity Karl indulged in while he was in India, as claimed by the home ministry. But creating content from a country you’re not a citizen of, is highly unlikely to be counted as a business activity. Content creators from around the world travel to different countries and monetise their videos on YouTube.

When asked what he has to say about MHA’s comment, Karl said, “All that will be done via (the) high court.”

According to the petition filed by his wife in the court, which The Wire has read, he was issued an X-2 visa, meant for spouses and children of Indian nationals after he married Malik. This visa was valid till 2024. One of the conditions of the visa was to exit India every 180 days or intimate the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) concerned.

Complying with the norms, he had tried to intimate the FRRO for visa extension as the 180 days were coming to an end, but the application was rejected and he was issued an exit permit instead, the petition notes.

Karl Rock, the content creator 

There are speculations on the Internet that Karl Rock was blacklisted because of his participation in the protests against the CAA in 2019. When he was contacted by the Indian Express to answer what he thought about this, he told the newspaper that he did participate in the protest but wasn’t sure if that was the reason for his blacklisting.

A look at his wife’s and his YouTube channel, however, shows that the video of him participating in the protest isn’t available on the platform anymore.

In late 2019 and early 2020, several foreign students in India were asked to leave the country after they participated in anti-CAA protests. But the Calcutta high court set aside one such notice issued to a Polish student of Jadavpur University.

The Wire also sought a comment from Karl Rock on whether he took the video down himself, but this query remained unanswered. The story will be updated as and when we get a reply.

With over 17 lakh followers on YouTube, Karl started making content roughly four years ago. His content revolves around the experiences he has in India as a foreigner.

Recently, he also visited Pakistan and created similar content – about food, street slang and tourist destinations – from the country. He has mostly created content from India, Pakistan and New Zealand so far.

Karl’s wife, Manisha Malik is a fashion content creator herself. According to their vlogs, Karl and Manisha got married in 2019, in New Delhi. Both Manisha and Karl are seen praising Indian art and its culture in their videos. In some of Karl’s videos, he has also spoken about petty scams in India and how foreigners who visit the country can prevent themseves getting scammed.

Manish’s father, Prem Singh Malik is a politician in Haryana who contested the last assembly elections independently from the Hansi constituency. Karl even created a vlog on his channel where he is seen at his father-in-law’s election rally. He starts the video by saying that this is not a promotional video about his father’s politics but only wants to make it to show the world what Indian election rallies are made of.

Last year, Karl also won the praise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in New Delhi for donating plasma to treat COVID-19 patients. He was seen in a video with AAP’s Raghav Chadha outside the ILBS hospital in New Delhi.