The Assam Police border wing, which deals with detection of illegal migrants residing in the state, has over the last one month detained 125 people who were declared as illegals by the Foreigners Tribunals in the state but were absconding, a senior police officer said.
“At least 125 declared foreigners have been taken into detention in the last 30 days,” a source in the border wing said on Thursday. Districts such as Dhubri, Nalbari and Barpeta of lower Assam have witnessed a considerable number of detentions during the drive to apprehend illegals across most districts of the state, it is learnt. Most of the detainees belong to Bengali-speaking Hindu and Muslim communities.
The detentions come in the wake of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi pulling up Assam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar last month, saying that only 900-odd declared foreigners were in the detention camps in the state while over a lakh have been declared as foreigners by the FTs. The FTs are quasi-judicial bodies meant to “furnish opinion on the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigner’s Act, 1946”.
An FT sends notices to those against whom a reference has been made by the Border Police or D-voters. After a notice is sent, the person has to appear on the given date and submit a written statement with a copy of relevant documents, after which there is submission of an affidavit, cross-examination of suspected foreigner and his witness.
However, government sources said that suspected foreigners often go absconding when a probe is initiated and the FT passes an ex-parte judgment. Further, many suspected foreigners often go absent for long stretches after making initial appearances which leads to ex-parte judgments.
“If the judgement is ex-parte or, say, the lawyer does not make the person appear in the FT on the last day, then the alleged foreigner is generally not arrested,” said a Guwahati-based lawyer, who has represented clients in several FTs.