GUWAHATI: Around 96,773 people declared foreigners by Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) in Assam have been roaming scot-free in Assam, and nobody knows where they are now.
The pressure that the public exchequer had to sustain in the declaration of these people of suspected nationalities as foreigners is simply incalculable. The cost comes right from point of the formation of Foreigners Tribunals by the Centre, expenses incurred by the numerous border police personnel who had to run after these people of suspected nationalities, the cost of running foreigners tribunals in the state, and whatnot.
According to official statistics, until December 31, 2023, the FTs declared 1,59,353 people as foreigners: 32,437 of whom entered the state pre-1971 and 1,26,880 entered the state post-1971. Until January 28, 2024, the government deported 30,107 of these declared foreigners. According to the Assam Accord, all the 1,26,880 post-1971 infiltrators who were declared foreigners by the FTs have to go back. Since only 30,107 of these declared foreigners were deported until January 2024, the question arises as to where the remaining 96,773 declared foreigners are now. Barely 200-300 of these declared foreigners are in the detention camps.
Various parties and organizations in the state have all along been demanding the detection and deportation of foreigners from the state. The irony, however, remains that thousands of declared foreigners have done the vanishing act in the state. They successfully blended themselves with the sea of humanity in every nook and corner of the state. This is not all. Such people know how to get into the electoral roll with fake documents and avail of the benefits of various government schemes.
According to official sources, the problems lie in the fact that the authorities at the helm of affairs cannot locate such people at their given addresses after their declaration as foreigners. When the authorities find such declared foreigners at their given addresses, they send them (declared foreigners) to the detention camps. Sources do not rule out that many of the declared foreigners in Assam have been taking shelter in some of the neighbouring states.
"The lack of an error-free monitoring mechanism to keep track of declared foreigners in the state is the crux of this problem. Though the Gauhati High Court made it a point to collect the biometric details of the people of suspected nationalities under trial in the FTs, the move has not delivered the desired results so far," a source said.