India appeared to slam the door yesterday on its citizens holding British National (Overseas) passports, opening the way for them to obtain full British citizenship. An External Affairs Ministry spokesman disowned them as Indian nationals, saying they had automatically renounced their nationality by obtaining the travel document issued to Hong Kong residents. The comments came as Britain awaited a response from New Delhi to queries about the status of Indian nationals who hold BNO passports. 'The Indian constitution does not recognise the holding of dual nationality,' said Ministry spokesman Talmiz Ahmad. 'Therefore, if an Indian passport holder obtains the passport of another nationality, he is deemed to have renounced his Indian nationality.' Citizens holding the British document and the Indian passport had acted illegally, he said. 'There are many people who hold dual passports to get the best of both worlds,' said Mr Ahmad. The Indian Resources Group, which has lobbied London not to allow an estimated 8,000 ethnic minority members to become stateless after the handover, said the Ministry statement was potentially significant. 'If India declares these people are no longer Indians then they also become members of an ethnic minority,' said director Ravi Gidumal. But he questioned whether the BNO could be considered a document of nationality. China only recognised it as a travel document which did not allow holders to live in Britain. Mr Gidumal said the British Government was likely to want a written statement from India, and said other ministries could have a different opinion. The Conservative Party government's announcement in February that it was granting full British passports to members of ethnic minorities living in Hong Kong sparked panic among Indians holding their own country's passport as well as the BNO. About 100 people rushed to the Indian Consulate-General to renounce their citizenship so they would be considered stateless and entitled to become British under the scheme. The number holding both documents is unknown.