Identify all undocumented migrants from Bangladesh: Jammu and Kashmir High Court

Barbed wire is seen laid on a deserted road during restrictions in India’s Srinagar, August 5, 2019. Reuters file photo

India's Jammu and Kashmir High Court has given six weeks to the authorities to identify migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar who are illegally staying in the federally-ruled territory.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi, passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Hunar Gupta seeking deportation of such undocumented migrants, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

"We direct the Secretary, Home, and Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, to consider the matter and to evolve a mechanism for the identification of all illegal immigrants and to prepare a list after identifying them. The exercise may be carried out, most promptly, within a period of six weeks," the bench said in its order last week.

According to government data, over 13,700 foreigners, including Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals, are settled in Jammu and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir where their population has increased by over 6,000 between 2008 and 2016.

Over 200 Rohingyas are lodged in a holding centre at Kathua after they were found living illegally in Jammu city during a verification drive in March last year.

Earlier, Senior Counsel Sunil Sethi, appearing for the petitioner, said, though it is very easy to identify such undocumented migrants, the government should come up with a complete mechanism for identifying them and submit a list of all such migrants to the court.

The court noted that one of the orders dated May 24, 2017 passed in the PIL indicates that at that time the government had constituted a group of ministers to examine the various issues relating to undocumented migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The group of ministers was supposed to take up the matter, examine it and furnish a report thereof. But till date, nothing has come on record.

The case was listed for hearing on July 15.

In his PIL, Gupta has demanded the deportation of undocumented migrants and also prayed for the withdrawal of all benefits given to them from the state exchequer and from the scheme and benefits meant for the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

The PIL claimed actual number of Bangladeshi and Rohingya immigrants are much more than the official figures.