Home Ministry clarifies that Gorkhas in Assam are not ‘foreigners’

Oct 11, 2018 10:33 IST
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The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification to the Assam state government regarding the citizenship status of the members of the Gorkha community living in the state.

The clarification follows a representation from the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh after some cases of members of the Gorkha community living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners' Tribunal.

Home Ministry’s statement on Gorkhas

The members of the Gorkha community who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalisation in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 are not ‘foreigners’ as per the section 2 (a) of the Foreigners Act, 1946, as well as the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and therefore, such cases, will not be referred to the Foreigners' Tribunal.

Clarification on the status of Gorkhas holding Nepalese nationality

Any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality, who arrived in India by land or through the air over the Nepal border without a passport or visa and is staying in India for any length of time shall also not be treated as an illegal migrant if the member is in possession of any of the identity documents.

The required identify documents, in this case, include the Nepalese Passport, Nepalese Citizenship Certificate, voter Identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal and limited validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India.

The required documents for children between the age group of 10-18 years include just the photo ID issued by the principal of the school if they are accompanied by parents having valid travel documents.

However, no such document is required for children below the age group of 10 years. The communication is in line with the provisions of the India-Nepal Treaty, which was signed in 1950.

Conclusion

The communication clarified that the cases of Gorkha community members falling within the mentioned parameters should not be referred to the Foreigners' Tribunal for an opinion as to whether the person is a 'foreigner' within the meaning of The Foreigners Act, 1946.

It stated that cases of only those individuals, who came to Assam from specified territories such as Bangladesh immediately before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, and are not Indian citizens, can be referred to the Foreigners' Tribunal.

Background

The Assam government had released its second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) on July 30, 2018. The list incorporates names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. It was last prepared after Census in 1951. It is being compiled under the orders of the Supreme Court to identify illegal foreigners residing in Assam.

The recently updated draft of the NRC includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.

Those whose names don’t feature in the NRC of Assam face the prospect of being declared illegal and sent out.

However, the names of those left out from the list will not be referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunal or taken to the detention centre until they exhaust all forms of appeal.

Fact Box: Assam’s National Register of Citizens' final draft

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