Overstayed foreigners: At annual police meet, more detention centres and use of biometrics suggested

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Source: The post is based on the article “At annual police meet, more detention centres and use of biometrics suggested” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2023.

What is the News?

On the first day of the 57th Director-Generals of Police and Inspectors-General of Police Conference, a session was dedicated to the concerted strategy to identify and deport overstaying foreigners in India.

What is the data on the number of foreigners who overstayed in India?

As per the immigration database, the number of foreigners who overstayed in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 stood at 54,576, 40,239 and 25,143 respectively.

Challenges in tracking overstayed foreigners:

Misuse of tourist visa: Tourist visas that allow a stay of up to 180 days in India do not require reporting with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). 

– The only way such foreigners can be tracked is through C-Forms that are required to be recorded by hotels and lodges while providing accommodation.

– However, this regulation is ineffective as many rented accommodations or homestays do not comply with the requirement.

What are the suggestions given at the conference to deal with overstayed foreigners?

Creation of a greater number of detention centres and use of biometrics to identify and deport foreigners who overstay.

Providing a unique number to foreigners arriving in India that needs to be quoted for availing any kind of services such as mobile phone connection, accommodation, and travel among others.

Fixing accountability of service providers hotels, educational institutes and hospitals for not reporting the presence of foreigners. 

Fast-track trial of court cases and use of plea bargaining in petty cases for early deportation. 

Take up the issue of non-cooperation by certain countries that cause delays in deportation.

What are the other issues deliberated at the conference?

Government policy on refugees: There is a need for clarity on the government’s policy when it comes to the Rohingya, or refugees recognised by the United Nations, as India is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

The unfenced border at Nepal and Myanmar: The free movement regime gives rise to security issues and other than smuggling of various items along the Nepal border.

– Along the Myanmar border, a free movement regime operates for residents residing in a 16 km belt in both countries. The refugee influx particularly into Mizoram after the coup in Myanmar two years ago is a cause of concern.

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