Overstaying foreigners' numbers reach alarming proportions

41,827 Afghan nationals overstayed between 2008-2010 in State

Bangalore police early this week detained renowned hairstylist Razia Sultan, an Afghan national, for overstaying in the country. She had come to the City to inaugurate a symposium attended by several other experts from India and abroad.

A case like this, according to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and local authorities, is a problem various agencies are trying to negate.

In Karnataka alone, a large number of illegal foreign residents, including Afghans, were found overstaying. A total of 10,906 were reported to have been overstaying — 2,005, 4,355 and 4,546 of them in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. A breakup by their nationality is not available immediately.

Compared to Karnataka, Odisha had 323, 211 and 19 persons overstaying during the period, while West Bengal, owing it to the proximity with Bangladesh, has the highest number of foreigners overstaying. Statistics revealed that there were a total of 88,647 foreigners overstaying during the period.

And Delhi follows Bengal with 52,961 reported to have been overstaying during the period. According to officials familiar with the situation, these are only the number of people who had legally entered the country. But there are many more who have illegally migrated into the country, keeping tabs on who is something that has been bothering the authorities concerned.

“…It is difficult, almost close to impossible, to ascertain the correct total number of foreign nationals who have entered the country without valid travel documents and are staying here,” an official said.

Specific data of foreign nationals, who come on a tourist visa and are overstaying, is not maintained, he said.

“However, a number of foreigners have been found to be overstaying. And information for the year 2011 and the current year (till March 2012) has not yet been compiled,” another source said.

Afghan, Pak nationals

According to country-wise statistics accessed by Deccan Herald, a total of 41,827 Afghans were found overstaying in India during 2008, 2009 and 2010. Of these, 14,511 persons were found overstaying in 2008; the numbers for 2009 and 2010 were 13,569 and 13,747, respectively.

Statistics reveal that the number of Afghans overstaying is in fact more than the number of Pakistani nationals.

A total of 23,557 Pakistanis were found overstaying during the aforementioned years.
In 2008, the number of Pakistanis was 7,547, but in 2009 and 2010 the number rose to 7,691 and 8,319, respectively.

On what happens to such persons, sources said the Centre is vested with powers to deport a foreign national under Section 3(2) (c) of the Foreigners Act, 1946 (see table).

“The powers to identify and deport illegally staying foreign nationals have also been delegated to the State governments and Union Territories administrations,” he said.

Overall, a total of 2,07,778 foreigners were found overstaying during the years with 2009 recording the most number of people at 73,441. In 2008 and 2010, the number stood at 65,149 and 69,188, respectively.

Measures

Among other measures, the Centre is also implementing a Mission Mode Project on Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking.

And this, sources said, is aimed at facilitating an improved tracking of foreigners by integrating and sharing information captured during visa issuance at Missions, during immigration check at the immigration checkposts and during registration at the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices / Foreigners Registration Offices.

Numbers say it

Year            Foreigners

2008               13,995
2009               12,147
2010                 7248

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