At a time when 22 Sikhs from India lodged in a jail in Florida are on a hunger strike seeking refuge in United States, New Delhi has said that self-seeking people demanding asylum abroad denigrate democratic systems in India.
Even as influential US non-profit American Civil Liberties Union sought Washington’s intervention to end the fortnight-long hunger strike by the 22 Sikhs at an immigration detention facility in south Florida, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government in New Delhi took a strong view about more and more people seeking asylum abroad, often claiming to be victims of religious and political persecution in India.
“The Government of India believes that asylum seekers, while applying for asylum to a foreign government, denigrate the system in India to obtain personal gains despite the fact that India, being a democratic country, provides avenues for everyone to redress their grievances lawfully,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
Though foreign governments generally cite strict privacy and data protection laws to decline to share details about people seeking refuge, information collated by New Delhi through its diplomatic missions worldwide revealed that United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy were among the top destinations of the asylum seekers from India.
The Embassy of India in Washington reported that American Government provided refuge to persons who had either been “persecuted” or had “a well-founded fear of persecution” through two programmes – “Affirmative Asylum” for persons outside US and their immediate relatives and “Defensive Asylum” for persons already in the US and their immediate relatives.
According to a report released by US Department of Homeland Security in August 2014, American Government granted asylum to altogether 866 Indians between 2011 and 2013. Besides, 966 others from India were also given the “following-to-join asylees” status granted to family members of a person already given asylum in the US. The data about the number of Affirmative Asylees from India is not separately available.
The UK seems to be the second most attractive destination for asylum seekers from India, with altogether 2,750 people from the country requesting British Government for refuge between 2012 and 2014. Only 54, however, succeeded in getting asylum though.
About 1,100 Indian nationals applied for asylum in Germany between 2005 and 2014, although German Government did not release details citing privacy laws. The pleas of 99 of altogether 153 Indians seeking asylum were accepted in France. Altogether 100 Indians sought asylum in Italy in 2011, 2012 and 2013, whereas 190 from the country did so in Austria.
Besides, 515 Indian nationals sought asylum in Japan between 2012 and 2014.