Union ministry’s notification on foreigners vague, says Assam CM

Guwahati, Oct 17 (IANS) The ministry of home affairs has amended the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, and the Foreigners’ Order, 1948 in haste, leaving many sensitive and vital issues unresolved, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Saturday.

“Though the central government has amended the Rules of 1950 and the Order of 1948 through a notification on September 7, by exempting persons belonging to minority community in Bangladesh or Pakistan who have been compelled to seek shelter in India on or before December 31, 2014, it does not mention specifically about Indian citizenship to them,” Gogoi said in a statement here.

“The amendments sought to provide relaxation for certain class of foreigners and for their stay in India. However, it does not mention anything about their acquiring Indian citizenship. It is not clear what kind of link is there, if any, with the Citizenship Act, 1955, particularly Section 6-A pertaining to citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord and the Citizenship Rule, 2003, Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and Foreigners’ Tribunal for Assam Order, 2006,” Gogoi said.

The Assam chief minister said that the notification did not address certain vital issues concerning foreigners who entered India before December 31, 2014, and have been detected as foreigners by the Foreigners’ Tribunals and lodged in detention centres or are absconding.

“In view of the amendments exempting specified categories of persons from the Foreigners’ Order, 1946, what will be the status of the cases registered against such specified categories of persons in different Foreigners’ Tribunals of Assam,” Gogoi asked.

“If persons of specified categories exempted by the MHA notification but currently lodged in detention centres have to be released, what process will have to be adopted? The notification is vague on this,” Gogoi said, adding there were 191 such persons lodged in detention centres across Assam.

Gogoi said several issues have been left unresolved, that is, whether specified categories of persons need to apply for exemption under Foreigners’ Act, 1946, as per the amended notification; whether these persons need to prove they are victims of religious persecution or fear of religious persecution and if so, in what manner or what evidence; whether they have to register themselves as belonging to specified category as mentioned in the notification and if so by what process, under which authority and whether there shall be any means of identification or issue of identity card.

The Assam chief minister urged the union ministry to clarify on these issues and asked if the present notification would eventually lead to naturalization of exempted categories of persons and enable them to acquire Indian citizenship as per Schedule III of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

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