GUWAHATI, Sept 13 - Though a decision has been taken to allow foreigners who came to India from the neighbouring countries due to religious persecution to stay in India, the Central Government does not have any assessment of the number of such people staying in the country. The Government is also undecided whether such people will be settled where they are staying at present or they will be settled all over the country.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the issue is a complex one and there is need for detailed deliberations before the Government�s decision is implemented on the ground.
Sources revealed that two sets of foreigners sneak into India illegally from the neighbouring countries. One set of people come for economic, political and other such reasons and the Government is very clear on its stand on the issue. The Government will never allow such people to stay illegally in India, the sources added. The second set of people enter India from the neighbouring countries because of religious and ethnic persecution and the Government is willing to take a lenient view about their fate.
MHA sources said that people from not only Bangladesh but also from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even Afghanistan came to India due to religious and ethnic persecutions in their respective countries and such people have been staying not only in Assam but all over the country. In the past, some such people were settled in the western States of the country but only recently, the Government has taken a decision to allow such people to stay in the country.
Replying to a question on whether the Government has any assessment of the people from neighbouring countries who came to India due to religious and ethnic persecution, the sources admitted that no such assessment has yet been made. �The Government will find out the number only when such people start coming forward seeking permission to stay in India after they escaped from their own countries out of compulsions. The Government will have to come up with a foolproof mechanism to ascertain that such people are telling the truth about the persecution they faced in their respective countries,� sources added.
On whether the recent decision of the Government will undermine the Assam Accord, sources admitted that it would be a complex question for the Government to answer and no discussion has yet been held on the issue in the highest level of the Government of India. As per the Assam Accord, the foreigners who came to Assam on or after the midnight of March 24, 1971, would be detected and deported but the recent decision of the Government is against that provision of the Accord.