Author: Vijaita Singh
India rejected a proposal by the U.K. to use DNA sampling to establish the nationality of illegal migrants living there citing “privacy issues”.
Although a Memorandum of Understanding on return of illegal migrants was initialled after due approval of the Union Cabinet in January by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, India refused to sign the final pact during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to U.K. in April.
As per the original MoU, security agencies in India were to verify the antecedents of illegal migrants without documents in the U.K. within 72 days and those with documents within 15 days.
If no report was given within the stipulated time frame, the illegal migrant would be deported automatically.
The agreement was put on indefinite hold after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval conveyed that the 15-day limit was unworkable.
Unethical, said India
“In one of the meetings, the U.K. authorities suggested that the nationality of document-less illegal migrants suspected to be Indians could be established by matching DNA samples of their family members living here. We raised objections that this was a breach of privacy and unethical. How do we know that the document-less person is an Indian,” said a senior Home Ministry official who attended the meeting.
According to the British government’s estimates, there are around 1,00,000 Indians overstaying their visa in the U.K.
India has contested this and said that as per their estimate, the number will not be more than 2,000.
Post-April, at least two high-level delegations from the U.K. have raised the issue with India.
During her first visit to India on November 7, 2016, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. would consider an improved visa deal “if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the U.K.”
Twists and turns
In January, Union Cabinet approved the contents of a MoU on “return of illegal migrants” to be signed with U.K.
MoS Home Kiren Rijiju, who led a delegation to U.K the same month, signed the MoU.
In April, the pact was expected to be signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London, but it was not included in the official list of business.
As per the original MoU, the security agencies in India were to verify the antecedents of document less illegal migrants in the U.K within 72 days and those with documents within 15 days. India pulled out of the pact saying the time frame was not feasible.