Police directed to lodge FIRs against declared foreigners

Facing the wrath of the Supreme Court over its handling of the foreigner issue, the Assam government has directed the police to lodge FIRs against the absconding declared illegal migrants.

The cases will be lodged under the Passport Act and Foreigners Act.
This comes close on the heels of the apex court pulling up the Assam Chief Secretary for proposing the release of foreigners held in detention camps for five years or more after securing bonds and biometrics.

“Necessary action will be taken against the absconders under the relevant sections of the Acts. It will also pave the way for attachment of properties of the declared foreigners if they have made any,” an official source told Media.

Coerced by the apex court, the State government has also activated the district task forces and has launched a manhunt to nab the over 70,000 declared foreigners who are said to be missing.

A Ministry of Home Affairs affidavit filed in the Supreme Court shows that as of March 2018, a total of 91,609 individuals were declared illegal foreigners by foreigners tribunals in Assam. Of this number, 72,486 are absconding.

Till yesterday evening, around 115 such missing declared foreigners have been caught by police across the State. The manhunt for the missing declared foreigners was stepped up since April 24.

The government has also directed the police to fast-track the proposals for deportation of those declared foreigners who have disclosed their addresses in the neighbouring country.

However, the process to deport the declared foreigners will be an arduous task for the government. For, a majority of the foreigners have not disclosed their original addresses.

While there are around 1,000 declared foreigners lodged in six detention centres, only around 88 have disclosed their addresses in Bangladesh. “Either they do not know it or are not revealing it. But we are trying to find out as much as we can,” the source said.

Ever since the push-back policy was stopped in 2013, the illegal migrants are deported by diplomatic channels and unless the correct address is provided and verified, they cannot be sent back. Given the situation, the government is clueless as to what to do with the declared foreigners who have not revealed their country of origin.

Meanwhile, the government plans to set up 200 more foreigners tribunals (FTs) by July next. In every two months after that, additional 200 FTs will come up, according to the government plans to increase the number of FTs to 1,100.

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