Bengaluru: Narcotic raids in the city have repeatedly exposed India’s flawed mechanism to track illegal immigrants, who may have come here on genuine travel visas, but have overstayed for wrong reasons such as drug and human trafficking and terrorism after destroying their genuine documents and getting fake ones by their handlers.
In the recent seizure of contraband drugs the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Bengaluru zone arrested six accused from the city. All six are Africans, who have come to India on student (2), medical (3) and business (1) visas, but are allegedly involved in drug peddling. “Four accused are Nigerians and the other two are from Ivory Coast and Burundi. Last year the NCB arrested seven accused under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act from the City. One accused was from Iran, the other was Sudanese and a repeat offender. The rest five were from Nigeria,” said an official source.
He added that in many occasions the enforcement agencies have found that a large number of foreigners, especially from Africa, who come on student and medical visas destroy their valid passports on landing in India and are given fake documents by their handlers, who are often their own nationals to create a false identity. “It is impossible to track illegal immigrants because they fake their identity and travel on fake documents,” said the officer.
According to Intelligence sources, while the biggest danger is from foreigners, who come to India on short term visas; of stay of maximum 180 days in the country because they need not register with the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO); those travelling on long term visas of one to two year duration are the ones, who are reportedly turning into illegal immigrants.
“The story of how a large number of foreigners have landed in the country and stayed back as illegal immigrants and stateless actors is not only worrisome; it is scary because even if they are caught they cannot be deported for lack of genuine documents. No country is willing accept them. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) needs to tighten its visa rules including student and medical visas and put in place stringent tracking mechanisms to safeguard our internal security. The problem lies in the system,” said a top Intelligence officer on condition of anonymity.
Lax visa rules to blame
Enforcement agencies have time and again cited large number of passport and visa violations largely by foreigners, who have come on student and medical visas. “The international drug cartels make use of the country’s loose visa rules for students and medical tourists. We find fit young men and women, who come in on medical visas. There are ‘students,’ who come here to ‘study’ and never attend a single class. The colleges have agents abroad, who get ‘students’ in turn of huge commissions from the colleges, who extract double the fees from foreign students. There are genuine international students and patients, who come to India for study and medical purposes but a large number of them, are minions of drug traffickers,” said a senior Intelligence officer.