Immigrants issues

The Supreme Court has raised serious questions over the Assam government’s efforts to trace over 70,000 illegal immigrants who have already mixed with the local population. On Monday, a bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said there may even be ‘undeclared foreigners’ who have already succeeded in ‘merging with the local population’ of the State. Taking a serious view of the submission that at least 70,000 declared illegal migrants in Assam have vanished or mingled with the local population before they could be deported, the apex court summoned the State’s Chief Secretary, for his personal appearance 8 April.

“No amount of disappearance or non-cooperation will solve this problem. Assam government is playing around with this court. Your affidavits are an exercise in futility. You are just dragging the matter,” Chief Justice Gogoi told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta after reading out the State and Centre’s affidavit that detailed steps to trace illegal immigrants. “You (Assam government) are saying that the declared foreigners have gone untraceable. How do you intend to identify them and deport them?’ it said further. ‘If this is the best a government can do, then permit us to invoke our jurisdiction under the Constitution. Do not defend the indefensible,” added the bench.

The court’s rebuke has come after the State government said thousands of illegal immigrants declared foreigners by its Foreigners Tribunals are untraceable. The Assam government told the court that 91,609 people have been declared as illegal foreigners by tribunals and out of them, 72,486 have been absconding and around 900 people are lodged in the centres. It is unacceptable that thousands of illegal migrants are being kept in detention centres for years in Assam without being repatriated or deported to their countries of origin. And, it is shocking that many had already merged with local population. These are against the interests of both the immigrants and Assam’s own populace.

NT Bureau