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Repatriation of foreigners from State picking up

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Feb 2 - Though repatriation of foreigners convicted in Assam is a cumbersome process and the rate remained very slow over the years, it has shown some improvement in the past one year, mainly because of the constant liaison between the State Border Police force and the government agencies concerned.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that an agreement was signed between India and Bangladesh on transfer of sentenced prisoners in 2012, but that did not expedite the process of repatriation of convicted Bangladeshi nationals because the whole process is a cumbersome one. But in the past one year, the process has shown some improvement.

According to records available, no sentenced foreigner was repatriated in the year 2012, while 13 Bangladeshi nationals were repatriated in 2013. Altogether 24 sentenced foreigners, including one Afghan national and 23 Bangladeshis, were repatriated in 2014. While only one Bangladeshi national was sent back in 2015, 13 and 26 were repatriated in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The process, however, showed improvement in 2018 as 65 sentenced foreign nationals, including 52 Bangladeshi nationals, one Pakistani, one Nigerian, two Afghans and nine citizens of Myanmar could be repatriated. In the first month of this year too, the same trend continued as 26 sentenced foreigners, including 21 Bangladeshi nationals and five citizens of Myanmar, could be repatriated.

Official sources admitted that the process of repatriation of foreigners is a lengthy process as whenever such repatriation is proposed, the State government submits lists to the Centre with details of the persons sought to be sent back. The government of India then gets in touch with the embassy of the country concerned. The embassy, in turn, sends the details to their own country for verification and only after thorough verification, the government of that country agrees to take back their own nationals. But even after arriving at such an agreement, the process of repatriation sometimes takes time because of lack of cooperation from the border guarding forces of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Travel permits outlining specific time frame are issued against the persons sought to be repatriated, but sometimes they cannot be sent back during that specific periods due to technical reasons and the border guarding forces refuse to accept the people whenever the time frame lapses. Moreover, the gates at the immigration check posts are closed at a certain time of the day and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) refuses to accept anyone beyond that time.

Sources also said that despite the hurdles, the process of repatriation improved in recent times as efforts are on to improve coordination among the government agencies, while at the same time, steps have also been taken to improve relations with the border guarding forces of the neighbouring countries.

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Repatriation of foreigners from State picking up

GUWAHATI, Feb 2 - Though repatriation of foreigners convicted in Assam is a cumbersome process and the rate remained very slow over the years, it has shown some improvement in the past one year, mainly because of the constant liaison between the State Border Police force and the government agencies concerned.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that an agreement was signed between India and Bangladesh on transfer of sentenced prisoners in 2012, but that did not expedite the process of repatriation of convicted Bangladeshi nationals because the whole process is a cumbersome one. But in the past one year, the process has shown some improvement.

According to records available, no sentenced foreigner was repatriated in the year 2012, while 13 Bangladeshi nationals were repatriated in 2013. Altogether 24 sentenced foreigners, including one Afghan national and 23 Bangladeshis, were repatriated in 2014. While only one Bangladeshi national was sent back in 2015, 13 and 26 were repatriated in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The process, however, showed improvement in 2018 as 65 sentenced foreign nationals, including 52 Bangladeshi nationals, one Pakistani, one Nigerian, two Afghans and nine citizens of Myanmar could be repatriated. In the first month of this year too, the same trend continued as 26 sentenced foreigners, including 21 Bangladeshi nationals and five citizens of Myanmar, could be repatriated.

Official sources admitted that the process of repatriation of foreigners is a lengthy process as whenever such repatriation is proposed, the State government submits lists to the Centre with details of the persons sought to be sent back. The government of India then gets in touch with the embassy of the country concerned. The embassy, in turn, sends the details to their own country for verification and only after thorough verification, the government of that country agrees to take back their own nationals. But even after arriving at such an agreement, the process of repatriation sometimes takes time because of lack of cooperation from the border guarding forces of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Travel permits outlining specific time frame are issued against the persons sought to be repatriated, but sometimes they cannot be sent back during that specific periods due to technical reasons and the border guarding forces refuse to accept the people whenever the time frame lapses. Moreover, the gates at the immigration check posts are closed at a certain time of the day and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) refuses to accept anyone beyond that time.

Sources also said that despite the hurdles, the process of repatriation improved in recent times as efforts are on to improve coordination among the government agencies, while at the same time, steps have also been taken to improve relations with the border guarding forces of the neighbouring countries.