Jammu and Kashmir’s Plan to Deport 10,000 Illegal Foreigners Underway, Document Verification Initiated

In Jammu and Kashmir, thousands of undocumented foreign nationals are facing increasing scrutiny. A high-level committee, established by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, has begun reviewing documents and preparing a report regarding foreign nationals residing in the region without proper documentation. Starting from January 1, 2011, these individuals will be identified, and a report will be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs every month.

Around 12,000 foreign nationals, including over 8,000 Rohingya refugees, currently reside in the state. Only some of them possess United Nations (UN) identification cards.

After identification, preparations are being made to repatriate these foreign nationals to their home countries. Legal actions may also be initiated against them. According to sources, in the state, the Rohingyas are being issued domicile certificates. Currently, a Rohingya woman in Kishtwar has been issued a domicile certificate, after which the Lieutenant Governor ordered a police investigation.

Undocumented foreign nationals are considered to pose internal security risks, and this scrutiny is a result of those concerns. This process began a couple of days ago, and the Lieutenant Governor had met the Prime Minister on the matter a few days before that.

There are four main reasons behind the scrutiny of undocumented foreign nationals:

  1. Preparation by the Government: Before the formation of the committee, the government had been studying the issues faced by undocumented foreign nationals. The increasing population of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Hindu-majority Jammu has raised concerns of potential social tensions. The government is under political pressure to send them back to their countries of origin.
  2. Proximity to Borders: Many of the Rohingyas reside close to the international borders, making verification difficult. This proximity raises concerns that they might be involved with or exploited by terrorists or drug cartels.
  3. Wives of Militants: Some of the 350 Pakistani wives of militants who laid down their arms are residing in Kashmir without proper documentation. They have been consistently protesting and demanding recognition from the government, thus putting pressure on authorities. Therefore, even after the verification of documents, the government might face the final decision on their status.
  4. Visa Overstays: Some foreign travelers initially arrived in the state with valid visas but later connected with NGOs and decided to stay in Jammu and Kashmir. These individuals will also be identified during this process.

Local women are being employed to help with the identification process. The Rohingya community has been residing in Jammu and Kashmir since 2012, and only a few of them have UNHCR identification cards. Some Rohingya women have been required to buy biometric kits for their identification. The campaign for Rohingya identification began in March 2021. After biometrics, 300 undocumented refugees were identified and placed in a holding center in Hiranagar Jail in Jammu. This initiative aims to provide official identification to the Rohingya community living in the region.

Niyati Rao

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