GUWAHATI, April 18 - Till date, India does not have a clear-cut policy on refugees, and the Congress, in its manifesto, has promised to bring a law on asylum consistent with international treaties and conventions. However, the manifesto did not spell out the details of the proposed law.
Highly-placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that till now, the Government of India has not been able to formulate a clear-cut policy on refugees and decisions are taken on case-to-case basis. Sources said that Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been given shelter in India, and the government has a specific policy for Tibetans forced to escape from their homeland. Even today, Tibetans are coming to India and they are given shelter and residential permits, as per which they are not allowed to procure immovable properties in India.
Sources said that though around 40,000 Rohingya are staying in India, the government does not recognise the cards issued to some of them by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). India is also not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees.
Sources pointed out that when Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin sought asylum in India, the government decided to provide long-term visa to her, and similarly, other such cases are dealt with on case-to-case basis because the government does not have a policy on granting refugee status or providing asylum to someone.
When asked to clarify his party�s position on the issue, All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesman Gaurav Gogoi said that any country should have a clear-cut policy on granting refugee status or asylum to anyone and that is why, the party decided to include the issue in its manifesto for the 2019 general elections.
Replying to a question as to why the details of the proposal were not clearly spelt out, he said, �only the basic principles are spelt out in the manifesto as it is not possible to go into the details.�
Gogoi pointed out that there should be a clear-cut law for the entire country to deal with issues like granting status of refugees or providing asylum to anyone. Even today, such decisions are taken by the Government of India on case-to-case basis. He said that there should be clear-cut and uniform policy for the entire country in such a crucial issue. He revealed that as a Member of Parliament, he had also moved a private member�s bill on the issue.
Gogoi said that the point of bringing a law on asylum was included in the manifesto of the Congress after detailed discussions with experts. He said that the entire manifesto was prepared after detailed talks with experts from various fields and that was why, �the Congress manifesto has become the talking point of all political parties in the run-up to the elections.�