''Centre did not ask Raj to keep Bangladeshis in detention''

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New Delhi, May 21 (UNI) Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today firmly denied that the Centre had directed the Rajasthan government to keep Bangladeshis in virtual detention camps in the state, and accused the ''opposition chief ministers'' of playing politics on issues of national security.

The state government was free to deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants, but should take care not to treat every Bangladeshi national as illegal resident or as terrorist, said the Home Minister in an interview to CNN-IBN.

The Home Ministry today also issued a statement dismissing news report that the Centre had issued some directions to a ''particular state government'' to round up immigrants and put them in a transit camp.

Mr Patil in his interview to the TV channel said,''You cannot chain every Bangladeshi or Pakistani and just send them back without following procedures. There is a law of land, follow it without abusing human rights.'' ''I think the Rajasthan Chief Minister and the state government should know what the laws under the Foreigner Act are, which have been in existence since 1946.They are perfectly entitled to deport illegal Bangladeshis without seeking any permission from the Centre. But they must make sure that not every Bangladeshi is treated as an illegal resident or as terrorist.'' Firmly denying that any letter was ever written to the state Government asking them to keep Bangladeshis in virtual detention camps, he said,'' This is totally false, no such official communication was ever given. The opposition Chief Minister must stop spreading disinformation and playing politics on issues of national security.'' Meanwhile, the Home Ministry statement referring to the media reports on Bangladeshis said that such reports could lead to unnecessary confusion.

It said the issue of identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was a continuing process and was dealt with as per the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946, and this, inter alia, provided for detection of foreigners staying illegally in the country and, issue of directions to restrict their movements and for their detention and deportation.

''Powers under the Act, relating to these provisions, were delegated to the State Governments as far back as 1958. The State Governments are taking action as per the provisions of the law on a continuing basis. Instructions have also been reiterated, from time to time, to all State Governments/Union Territory Administrations in this respect,'' it said.

The Ministry said a Nodal Authority under the Union Home Secretary had been constituted on a court order to monitor the action taken on the illegal immigrants, and meetings of the Nodal Authority have been held with the officials of the Government of Delhi, the States in the NCR region and the border States contiguous to Bangladesh.

''In this context, the need for systematic action for detection, detention and deportation of illegal immigrants has been emphasised.

With reference to a particular letter said to have been written by the Government of Rajasthan in which certain problems had been mentioned, they had been advised to depute officers for consultations with the concerned authorities in Delhi by way of guidance, and no directions, as has been suggested in the reports, were issued.'' Selective references had also been made to some alleged directions given in a meeting held on April 25, 2007 which, incidentally were factually incorrect, but what had been stressed in these meetings was not only to take systematic action for detection and deportation of illegal immigrants, but also to take multi-faceted measures to prevent illegal immigration into the country.

''Mention has also been made about the need for the Prime Minister to immediately convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers on Internal Security. It is informed that over the last 4 years, regular meetings of chief ministers on Internal Security have been held under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, the last of which was held on 20th December, 2007. On this occasion, separate meetings were also held with the Chief Ministers to specifically discuss issues relating to terrorism and Naxalite violence,'' the statement said.

UNI NAZ PK NS2128

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