Illegal migrants “infringe on the rights of Indian citizens” and are “more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organisations”, the Union Home Ministry has said in a communication to state governments and Union territories, asking them to “identify and deport” them soon. According to officials, migrants from Bangladesh settled in the Northeast and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar were said to be the primary concern of the home ministry.
“Due to a variety of reasons, including political and economic turmoil in neighbouring countries, people from such countries often enter India. There are cultural and ethnic similarities…. Many such migrations go unnoticed and they settle on Indian territory,” said Dilip Kumar, joint secretary in the home ministry, in the letter that was sent out on August 8.
According to the ministry’s estimates, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslims across India, the highest in Jammu and Kashmir. They were forced to leave their homes after a crackdown by the army in their home state of Rakhine in Myanmar. A large number of the illegal immigrants have also enrolled for Aadhaar numbers, a vital proof of identity, said officials requesting anonymity.
The number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh is said to be over 2 crore. While listing the legal provisions for identifying and deporting illegal migrants, Kumar said in his letter: “Police can exercise its power to arrest a foreign national illegally staying in India under the passport act.” He added that “any foreign national who remains in any area in India for a period exceeding the period for which the visa was issued to him can be proceeded against under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946”.
Officials added that several Rohingya families had been issued United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards but it is not recognised by New Delhi. Kumar added in the letter: “…It is essential to identify such illegal migrants and also keep a watch on their activities for preventing any untoward incident that can take place”.
The Centre also directed the state governments to set up a task force at the district level to identify and deport illegally-staying foreign nationals.
Recently, Jitendra Singh, the minister of State in the PMO, raised the issue of Rohingyas in Jammu and Kashmir. He hinted that the concentration of Rohingyas in the Valley was an attempt by vested interests to change the “demographic status” of the state. He also demanded a thorough probe into the “antecedents” of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi settlers.