Panel set up by J&K Home Department to identify illegal foreigners living in the region

illegal foreigners living in Jammu and kashmir
Civil Secretariat of J&K (Photo: News Intervention)

In a significant move, the Jammu and Kashmir home department has set up a six-member high-level panel tasked with identifying illegal foreigners staying in the Union Territory since January 1, 2011. The formation of this committee comes as part of the government’s efforts to address issues related to the presence of foreigners who have overstayed their visas, sometimes under the pretext of various activities.

A monthly report to Union Home Ministry

The official order outlining the committee’s responsibilities specifies that it is responsible for preparing a monthly report listing missing foreigners in Jammu and Kashmir. These reports will be submitted to the Union home ministry by the seventh day of each month. The aim is to ensure strict compliance with visa regulations and identify individuals who may be in violation of their visa status.

Over the years, there have been cases of illegal foreigners exploiting their visas, often claiming to be involved with NGOs or sports activities in Kashmir. Such individuals have been known to overstay their visas, only to face expulsion by the authorities once their true status is discovered.

This move may have implications for more than 350 women who came to the Valley from Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) and Pakistan. They had married Kashmiri militants during their stay in Pakistan for arms training in the 1990s and early 2000s. These women, along with their Kashmiri husbands and children, returned to the region after 2010 under a special package initiated by the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress coalition government. The package was designed for individuals who had given up insurgent activities due to a change of heart and expressed a willingness to return to the state.

While the government previously acknowledged the return of 377 former militants and their families from Pakistan, the current administration has not officially recognized the settlement of these Pakistani women in Jammu and Kashmir, who have married Kashmiri former militants.

Committee under Financial Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary

The high-level committee will be chaired by the Financial Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department. Its members include the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) of Punjab, senior superintendents of police (SSPs), and representatives from the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Special Branch) in both Jammu and Srinagar. Additionally, all senior superintendents of police (Foreigners Registration Office) are part of the committee.

In 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir Police conducted a significant crackdown against illegal immigrants, detaining over 270 Rohingyas from Myanmar, including 74 women and 70 children, at the sub-jail in Kathua district’s Hiranagar. The facility was subsequently transformed into a holding center for foreigners staying illegally in the Union Territory.

It has been reported that more than 13,700 foreigners, including Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi nationals, have settled in Jammu and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Their population has witnessed a substantial increase, with more than 6,000 newcomers arriving between 2008 and 2016. This step is perceived by many as a bold move that is in line with the ongoing measures to curb any possibility of revival of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir

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