A foreigners tribunal
Guwahati, Sept. 13: Altogether 41,033 people, declared as foreigners by tribunals in Assam, have gone missing since 1985, according to data available with the state government.
The data reveals that between signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 and June this year, 4,84,381 cases were referred to foreigners tribunals and 86,489 people were declared foreigners.
Of these, 29,663 were pushed back and 71 deported to Bangladesh, while 833 are lodged in detention camps awaiting expulsion and 41,033 remain untraced.
The state government claims most of the people may have absconded after orders of the tribunals went against them and some may have died.
The Assam Accord, signed between the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Centre had fixed the midnight of March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of illegal migrants.
At present, 1,87,985 cases are pending at foreigners tribunals, down from 2,01,928 cases in February.
The rate of disposal of cases by tribunals has improved after the number of tribunals was increased from 36 to 100 in 2015.
The state government has formed 500 task forces according to the direction of the Supreme Court at district level to identify and deport illegal migrants and the task forces are functioning since April 2015.
The Sarbananda Sonowal government, which came to power in May last year, has laid great emphasis on strengthening the tribunals and expediting disposal of cases as solving the illegal migrants' issue was the main promise of the BJP for the 2014 Assembly elections.
In June this year, the state government issued strict warning to 15 members of the foreigners tribunals to improve their rate of disposal of cases.
On fencing the 263km-long Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam, parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary informed the Assembly recently that 13.38km of the land border and 48.11km riverine border was unfenced.
He said the Union home ministry has approved a smart fence for the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam on the lines of the one constructed by Engineering Projects India Ltd (EPIL) in Oman, which cannot be cut or negotiated easily.
Patowary said steps are being taken for the use of advanced technology like electro-optic sensors, water robots, cameras, sonar, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), among others, to prevent infiltration through the riverine border.
He said the 39th high-level empowered committee of the Union home ministry has approved an Rs 86.83 crore project called Technological Solution for Border Domination.
Sonowal had written to Union home minister Rajnath Singh in July 2016, requesting that construction of fences along the entire border be handed over to the army, which has advanced technical expertise and has carried out such fencing work on the Indo-Pakistan border successfully.