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Over 1.70 lakh foreigners deported from State during 1961-66

By R DUTTA CHOUDHURY
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GUWAHATI, June 27 - The process of deportation of foreigners from Assam picked up momentum during the period from 1961 to 1966 and during that period itself, more than 1.70 lakh infiltrators were pushed back to the then East Pakistan. The tough stand taken by the Government in this regard forced Pakistan to issue a threat to approach the United Nations alleging human rights violations.

According to a Government report, the pace of disposal of the cases by the Foreigners' Tribunals was much faster after the Government established four tribunals under the provisions of the Foreigners' Act. However, later, the pace of deportation of foreigners slowed down and now the process has become more of a farce with a handful of illegal migrants are deported in a year.

�The Registrar General of Census in his report on the 1961 census assessed that 2,20,691 infiltrators had entered Assam. In light of this report of Census 1961 coupled with intelligence reports about entry of infiltrators, police launched a drive in 1962-1964 to detect and deport such illegal migrants. By mid 1964, the State Government had also set up four tribunals through an executive order to cover those cases of suspected infiltrators who claimed themselves to be Indian citizens. These tribunals were headed by special officers with judicial background who were appointed to scrutinize cases of infiltrators before issuing Quit India notices,� the report said.

The report said that during the period from 1961 to 1966 approximately, 1,78,952 infiltrators were either deported or had voluntarily left the country but an estimated 40,000 of them did not leave India. The Police drive, which commenced in mid 1962 against infiltrators continued but invited criticism from some leaders of Assam. Pakistan also threatened to drag the issue of deportation to the United Nations. A conference of Home Ministers of India and Pakistan was held in New Delhi in April, 1964 to discuss primarily the deportation issue and need to maintain communal harmony in the subcontinent including minority protection, but the conference did not yield any substantial result. The issue of eviction of infiltrators was deliberated by the cabinet several times during 1964-66 and there was a general consensus till early part of 1964 that any stoppage of deportation would seriously affect the internal situation in Assam.

It was decided by the Central Government that before eviction every individual case should be examined by judicial authority even though this may result in delay, by introducing a judicial element in the procedure for the eviction of Pakistani infiltrators to stand the test of scrutiny before the international forum. All this culminated in the issue of a statutory order called the Foreigners (Tribunal) Order on September 23, 1964 and the creation of Foreigners Tribunals under clause-2 of the order, thereby making it mandatory for the appointment of Member with judicial background. This was done in the context of representations made by various organizations about harassments being caused to bona fide Indian persons while 'Quit Notices' were served on infiltrators as also adverse publicity on this issue over the international media. Under the aforesaid statutory order, 4 Foreigners Tribunals were set up in 1964 and as many as 35,080 persons were referred to these Tribunals till the end of August 1965. Apparently, most of the cases were disposed of in 10 month's time. The procedure of detection was relaxed so as to give the suspected infiltrators adequate opportunity to contest the Police case, should he desire to do so. In doing so, the Government was also attempting to counter criticisms that procedure followed was arbitrary and unfair. By 1968, there were nine Foreigners Tribunals with headquarters at Tezpur, Gauhati, Nowgong (2), Sibsagar, Goalpara, Dhubri, Barpeta and Jorhat.

In 1969 Government decided that only following three categories of foreigners were to be summarily deported: Pakistani nationals who held Pakistani passports, re-infiltrators who were once deported and fresh infiltrators, caught at the border. Further, the Superintendents of Police were directed not to detain persons being checked at railway stations leading to their missing train connections as a consequence of such checking and detention. If a person was suspected to be a Pakistani, he was to be questioned and followed or information sent to where he was proceeding so that a track is kept on him and future inquiries can be pursued, but he should not be detained at the station itself. The Superintendents of Police were further instructed that there should be no wholesale checking of villages and houses. Only when there were specific suspicious circumstances surrounding the cases, which need to be further gone into, would such a probe be made. The Superintendents of Police were also advised that, as far as possible, the investigation should be done under the supervision of responsible officer.

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Over 1.70 lakh foreigners deported from State during 1961-66

GUWAHATI, June 27 - The process of deportation of foreigners from Assam picked up momentum during the period from 1961 to 1966 and during that period itself, more than 1.70 lakh infiltrators were pushed back to the then East Pakistan. The tough stand taken by the Government in this regard forced Pakistan to issue a threat to approach the United Nations alleging human rights violations.

According to a Government report, the pace of disposal of the cases by the Foreigners' Tribunals was much faster after the Government established four tribunals under the provisions of the Foreigners' Act. However, later, the pace of deportation of foreigners slowed down and now the process has become more of a farce with a handful of illegal migrants are deported in a year.

�The Registrar General of Census in his report on the 1961 census assessed that 2,20,691 infiltrators had entered Assam. In light of this report of Census 1961 coupled with intelligence reports about entry of infiltrators, police launched a drive in 1962-1964 to detect and deport such illegal migrants. By mid 1964, the State Government had also set up four tribunals through an executive order to cover those cases of suspected infiltrators who claimed themselves to be Indian citizens. These tribunals were headed by special officers with judicial background who were appointed to scrutinize cases of infiltrators before issuing Quit India notices,� the report said.

The report said that during the period from 1961 to 1966 approximately, 1,78,952 infiltrators were either deported or had voluntarily left the country but an estimated 40,000 of them did not leave India. The Police drive, which commenced in mid 1962 against infiltrators continued but invited criticism from some leaders of Assam. Pakistan also threatened to drag the issue of deportation to the United Nations. A conference of Home Ministers of India and Pakistan was held in New Delhi in April, 1964 to discuss primarily the deportation issue and need to maintain communal harmony in the subcontinent including minority protection, but the conference did not yield any substantial result. The issue of eviction of infiltrators was deliberated by the cabinet several times during 1964-66 and there was a general consensus till early part of 1964 that any stoppage of deportation would seriously affect the internal situation in Assam.

It was decided by the Central Government that before eviction every individual case should be examined by judicial authority even though this may result in delay, by introducing a judicial element in the procedure for the eviction of Pakistani infiltrators to stand the test of scrutiny before the international forum. All this culminated in the issue of a statutory order called the Foreigners (Tribunal) Order on September 23, 1964 and the creation of Foreigners Tribunals under clause-2 of the order, thereby making it mandatory for the appointment of Member with judicial background. This was done in the context of representations made by various organizations about harassments being caused to bona fide Indian persons while 'Quit Notices' were served on infiltrators as also adverse publicity on this issue over the international media. Under the aforesaid statutory order, 4 Foreigners Tribunals were set up in 1964 and as many as 35,080 persons were referred to these Tribunals till the end of August 1965. Apparently, most of the cases were disposed of in 10 month's time. The procedure of detection was relaxed so as to give the suspected infiltrators adequate opportunity to contest the Police case, should he desire to do so. In doing so, the Government was also attempting to counter criticisms that procedure followed was arbitrary and unfair. By 1968, there were nine Foreigners Tribunals with headquarters at Tezpur, Gauhati, Nowgong (2), Sibsagar, Goalpara, Dhubri, Barpeta and Jorhat.

In 1969 Government decided that only following three categories of foreigners were to be summarily deported: Pakistani nationals who held Pakistani passports, re-infiltrators who were once deported and fresh infiltrators, caught at the border. Further, the Superintendents of Police were directed not to detain persons being checked at railway stations leading to their missing train connections as a consequence of such checking and detention. If a person was suspected to be a Pakistani, he was to be questioned and followed or information sent to where he was proceeding so that a track is kept on him and future inquiries can be pursued, but he should not be detained at the station itself. The Superintendents of Police were further instructed that there should be no wholesale checking of villages and houses. Only when there were specific suspicious circumstances surrounding the cases, which need to be further gone into, would such a probe be made. The Superintendents of Police were also advised that, as far as possible, the investigation should be done under the supervision of responsible officer.