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40,000 Rohingyas: Why it’s difficult for govt to give accurate figures on illegal immigrants

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    New Delhi, Dec 21: On Tuesday, Union minister Kiren Rijiju informed Parliament that around 40,000 Rohingya migrants were illegally living in India. He added that India has not deported any Rohingya immigrant in the past three years.

    "As per available information, approximately 330 Pakistani and approximately 1,770 Bangladeshi nationals have been deported during the last three years. No Rohingya immigrant has been deported during the last three years," Rijiju said in a written reply.

    rohingyas

    The minister informed the Lok Sabha that the entry of illegal migrants was clandestine and surreptitious and thus, an accurate figure of how many of them were currently living in the country was not available.

    The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the western Rakhine State of Myanmar, have settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.

    Some instances of violation of the law and involvement in illegal activities by foreign nationals have been reported, the minister said.

    "Registration of cases and action thereon comes within the purview of the police stations and state governments/ Union territory administrations concerned. Statistical data of this nature is not centrally maintained," Rijiju said.

    Central government is vested with powers to deport a foreign national under section 3(2)(c) of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

    These powers to identify and deport illegally staying foreign nationals have also been delegated to the state governments/Union territory administrations and the Bureau of Immigration under the Foreigners Act, 1946.

    "Detection and deportation of such illegal immigrants is a continuous process," he said. Rijiju said the procedure includes sending back then and there the illegal immigrants who are intercepted at the border while entering India unauthorisedly.

    The central government is also implementing a mission mode project on Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking which will facilitate improved tracking of foreigners by integrating and sharing information captured during visa issuance at missions, during immigration check at the immigration check posts and during registration at the offices of the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers, the minister said.

    "The law enforcement agencies also maintain a strict vigil on the activities of foreigners in the country and take appropriate action in cases of any illegal activities," he said.

    The statement made by the minister has come at a time when Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees who have taken shelter in Bangladesh since August this year.

    At least 655,000 Rohingyas have fled from Myanmar's Rakhine State since August and are staying in various refugees camps in Bangladesh.

    On Tuesday, Bangladesh and Myanmar reaffirmed their commitment to begin repatriating Rohingya refugees in January.

    However, various international rights groups warned that the situation in Myanmar was not right for the repatriation of Rohingyas. "Unless their (Rohingyas) safety is not assured, it would not be right to send them back to Myanmar in such a hasty manner," said a member of a rights group.

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