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Politics India

From the horse’s mouth: MHA releases data on deportations and illegal immigration

A collation of data provided by MHA from time to time in the Parliament on number of illegal immigrants, deportations and citizenship granted to immigrants

Sanchita Kadam 14 Jan 2020

Illegal Migrants

The Modi 2.0 government has had two sessions in the Parliament and has been in power for 6 months. In this short stint so far, the ruling government’s actions have spread continued discontent among its populace. First major step was the effectual revocation of Article 370 of Indian Constitution and reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and effecting a communication blockade in the Kashmir valley.

Secondly, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced and passed by both houses of Parliament in December 2019, thus the bill has now become a law effective January 10, 2020. The law enables grant of citizenship to Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The law categorically excludes Muslims from its purview and this has been seen as a divisive policy of the government. Before the passage of the bill, it was also introduced in the previous stint of the government, i.e. in 2016 but the same had lapsed in 2019 as Lok Sabha had dissolved due to end of its tenure.

It was expected that in their new tenure as well they will introduce the law and hence the parliamentary sessions of 2019 saw quite a few questions on illegal intrusions and deportations taken place on the Indian soil, some questions were trying to get an estimate of number of illegal immigrants in the country while some were trying to gauge whether this law was really necessary.
 

Number of illegal migrants

A common thread or piece of information that has been consistent throughout the year, is the answer on number of illegal migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The government, rather the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has consistently maintained that there is no accurate data on data of number of illegal migrants in the country. Ideally an estimate can be made basis the number of cases filed under the Foreigners Act which is the statutory sanction for booking illegal migrants and making them undergo trial. However, the MHA has maintained that they have no data on this as such data has not been maintained.

Ideally for a government claiming that so many people have fled these 3  “Islamic” countries to India to find safe harbour from the religious persecutions in their home countries, they should have first gathered the data on number of such migrants actually present in the country, if they have managed to nab any. It appears therefore, that the law has been made for the benefit of an unspecified set of people, while the government is either unaware how many such people exist in the country or is hiding such figures from its citizenry.

The MHA however, did provide data on Afghan and Pakistani nationals belonging to religious minorities, living in India on long term basis. Per MHA, 41,331 Pak nationals and 4193 Afghan nationals belonging to religious minorities have been reported to be living in India on Long term basis as on December 31, 2018. This data however indicates people from these countries living in India on legal terms, probably on basis of  Long Term Visas (LTV).
 

Deportations from India

Before the six non-Muslim communities could seek refuge and citizenship in India, they have been deported over the years as per the law of the land. Since the data on the religious background of such deported individuals is not available, it is impossible to ascertain how many people of these communities have already been sent back and hence do not stand to benefit from the new law, now known as Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The Central Government is vested with powers to deport a foreign national illegally staying in the country under Section 3(2) (c) of the Foreigners Act, 1946.  These powers to identify and deport illegally staying Bangladeshi Nationals have also been delegated to the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations. Detection and deportation of such illegal immigrants is a continuous process. Details of such deportation orders issued by the State Governments/UT administrations are not centrally maintained.
 

Official data from MHA, as presented in Parliament in 2019:

Karnataka has registered 143 cases against illegal immigration and so far 114 persons staying in Karnataka have been deported.

The latest data on number of inmates in 6 detention camps in Assam is as of November 28 and stands at 970. This number does not indicate that these many people are illegal migrants, nor do they indicate that only these many people have been deemed to be illegal migrants in Assam. For now, there is no definite figure on this number even in the state of Assam. From Assam alone, 6 persons have been deported in 2019 and 227 have been deported (starting range not known) as on December 5, 2019

The Border Security Force (BSF) has been given the authority to detain people who are caught illegally crossing the border between India and Bangladesh and deport them back to Bangladesh. People who illegally enter India from Bangladesh are being arrested/intercepted by BSF/State/UT Police and after completion of legal action against them, are being deported to Bangladesh. The deported persons are handed over at the border to Bangladeshi officials who ensure that the repatriated persons are sent home.

As per MHA, BSF has deported 1,154 people till October 31, 2019 in that year alone. Cumulative data of last 5 years suggests that from 2015 to October 31, 2019, a total of 8,948 persons have been deported to Bangladesh, as a result of having been apprehended on the Indo-Bangladesh border.

While Bureau of Immigration’s data suggests that 1,731 foreigners/immigrants were deported to various countries in 2018, BSF data suggests that in 2018, 1,118 persons have been deported across the Bangladesh border. Which means that out of the total 1,731 deportations in 2018, 1,118 deportations have been made to Bangladesh alone. The Bureau of Immigration’s data remains consistent with data provided by Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs), while the office of FRRO also provided deportation data for 2016 which stands at 2,476 and for 2017 which stands at 2,272.

As per the Annual Report 2018-19 released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, in a span of 15 months from January 2018 to March 2019, a total of 1,982 foreigners were deported by the FRRO and out of these deported persons, 491 were from Bangladesh and the rest from African countries of Nigerai Somalia.
 

Citizenship granted

As per data provided by MHA, 391 Afghani and 1595 Pakistani migrants, have been granted Indian Citizenship between 2016 and 2018. In 2019, 40 Afghani and 712 Pakistani migrants, have been granted Indian Citizenship till 6th December 2019. A total of 927 Sikhs and Hindus (separate figures not known) from both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been granted citizenship since 2018.

As per data provided by MHA in July, 2019, it has specified that Collectors of 16 districts including three Districts of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur in the State of Rajasthan and Secretary (Home) of the seven states  including the state of Rajasthan would exercise powers of the Central Govt. to grant Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization to legal migrants belonging to six minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. This was done as per powers conferred on the government under section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Section 16 of the Act is a provision for delegation of power by the Central Government to any officer or authority as it may deem necessary. But the government can only delegate a power that it possesses or has been conferred upon it as per the Act. The act, at that time did not have the provision of providing citizenship to migrants belonging to the 6 specified communities. Yet, Rajasthan government and District Collectors of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur granted citizenships to people from these six non-Muslim communities much before the Citizenship Amendment Bill was even introduced in the Parliament. The data provided is as follows:

table

In conclusion, one can infer that the government may not have or is perhaps unwilling to release the data on the number of possible beneficiaries of its new amendment to the Citizenship Act. The law can be said to have been formulated without having a data set on the number of people who stand to benefit from it, while the BJP leaders go about claiming from time to time that scores of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are settled in India.

From the horse’s mouth: MHA releases data on deportations and illegal immigration

A collation of data provided by MHA from time to time in the Parliament on number of illegal immigrants, deportations and citizenship granted to immigrants

Illegal Migrants

The Modi 2.0 government has had two sessions in the Parliament and has been in power for 6 months. In this short stint so far, the ruling government’s actions have spread continued discontent among its populace. First major step was the effectual revocation of Article 370 of Indian Constitution and reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and effecting a communication blockade in the Kashmir valley.

Secondly, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced and passed by both houses of Parliament in December 2019, thus the bill has now become a law effective January 10, 2020. The law enables grant of citizenship to Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The law categorically excludes Muslims from its purview and this has been seen as a divisive policy of the government. Before the passage of the bill, it was also introduced in the previous stint of the government, i.e. in 2016 but the same had lapsed in 2019 as Lok Sabha had dissolved due to end of its tenure.

It was expected that in their new tenure as well they will introduce the law and hence the parliamentary sessions of 2019 saw quite a few questions on illegal intrusions and deportations taken place on the Indian soil, some questions were trying to get an estimate of number of illegal immigrants in the country while some were trying to gauge whether this law was really necessary.
 

Number of illegal migrants

A common thread or piece of information that has been consistent throughout the year, is the answer on number of illegal migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The government, rather the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has consistently maintained that there is no accurate data on data of number of illegal migrants in the country. Ideally an estimate can be made basis the number of cases filed under the Foreigners Act which is the statutory sanction for booking illegal migrants and making them undergo trial. However, the MHA has maintained that they have no data on this as such data has not been maintained.

Ideally for a government claiming that so many people have fled these 3  “Islamic” countries to India to find safe harbour from the religious persecutions in their home countries, they should have first gathered the data on number of such migrants actually present in the country, if they have managed to nab any. It appears therefore, that the law has been made for the benefit of an unspecified set of people, while the government is either unaware how many such people exist in the country or is hiding such figures from its citizenry.

The MHA however, did provide data on Afghan and Pakistani nationals belonging to religious minorities, living in India on long term basis. Per MHA, 41,331 Pak nationals and 4193 Afghan nationals belonging to religious minorities have been reported to be living in India on Long term basis as on December 31, 2018. This data however indicates people from these countries living in India on legal terms, probably on basis of  Long Term Visas (LTV).
 

Deportations from India

Before the six non-Muslim communities could seek refuge and citizenship in India, they have been deported over the years as per the law of the land. Since the data on the religious background of such deported individuals is not available, it is impossible to ascertain how many people of these communities have already been sent back and hence do not stand to benefit from the new law, now known as Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The Central Government is vested with powers to deport a foreign national illegally staying in the country under Section 3(2) (c) of the Foreigners Act, 1946.  These powers to identify and deport illegally staying Bangladeshi Nationals have also been delegated to the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations. Detection and deportation of such illegal immigrants is a continuous process. Details of such deportation orders issued by the State Governments/UT administrations are not centrally maintained.
 

Official data from MHA, as presented in Parliament in 2019:

Karnataka has registered 143 cases against illegal immigration and so far 114 persons staying in Karnataka have been deported.

The latest data on number of inmates in 6 detention camps in Assam is as of November 28 and stands at 970. This number does not indicate that these many people are illegal migrants, nor do they indicate that only these many people have been deemed to be illegal migrants in Assam. For now, there is no definite figure on this number even in the state of Assam. From Assam alone, 6 persons have been deported in 2019 and 227 have been deported (starting range not known) as on December 5, 2019

The Border Security Force (BSF) has been given the authority to detain people who are caught illegally crossing the border between India and Bangladesh and deport them back to Bangladesh. People who illegally enter India from Bangladesh are being arrested/intercepted by BSF/State/UT Police and after completion of legal action against them, are being deported to Bangladesh. The deported persons are handed over at the border to Bangladeshi officials who ensure that the repatriated persons are sent home.

As per MHA, BSF has deported 1,154 people till October 31, 2019 in that year alone. Cumulative data of last 5 years suggests that from 2015 to October 31, 2019, a total of 8,948 persons have been deported to Bangladesh, as a result of having been apprehended on the Indo-Bangladesh border.

While Bureau of Immigration’s data suggests that 1,731 foreigners/immigrants were deported to various countries in 2018, BSF data suggests that in 2018, 1,118 persons have been deported across the Bangladesh border. Which means that out of the total 1,731 deportations in 2018, 1,118 deportations have been made to Bangladesh alone. The Bureau of Immigration’s data remains consistent with data provided by Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs), while the office of FRRO also provided deportation data for 2016 which stands at 2,476 and for 2017 which stands at 2,272.

As per the Annual Report 2018-19 released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, in a span of 15 months from January 2018 to March 2019, a total of 1,982 foreigners were deported by the FRRO and out of these deported persons, 491 were from Bangladesh and the rest from African countries of Nigerai Somalia.
 

Citizenship granted

As per data provided by MHA, 391 Afghani and 1595 Pakistani migrants, have been granted Indian Citizenship between 2016 and 2018. In 2019, 40 Afghani and 712 Pakistani migrants, have been granted Indian Citizenship till 6th December 2019. A total of 927 Sikhs and Hindus (separate figures not known) from both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been granted citizenship since 2018.

As per data provided by MHA in July, 2019, it has specified that Collectors of 16 districts including three Districts of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur in the State of Rajasthan and Secretary (Home) of the seven states  including the state of Rajasthan would exercise powers of the Central Govt. to grant Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization to legal migrants belonging to six minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. This was done as per powers conferred on the government under section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Section 16 of the Act is a provision for delegation of power by the Central Government to any officer or authority as it may deem necessary. But the government can only delegate a power that it possesses or has been conferred upon it as per the Act. The act, at that time did not have the provision of providing citizenship to migrants belonging to the 6 specified communities. Yet, Rajasthan government and District Collectors of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur granted citizenships to people from these six non-Muslim communities much before the Citizenship Amendment Bill was even introduced in the Parliament. The data provided is as follows:

table

In conclusion, one can infer that the government may not have or is perhaps unwilling to release the data on the number of possible beneficiaries of its new amendment to the Citizenship Act. The law can be said to have been formulated without having a data set on the number of people who stand to benefit from it, while the BJP leaders go about claiming from time to time that scores of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are settled in India.

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