The Centre has told the Assam government that members of the Gorkha community should not be treated as "illegal migrants" and only individuals who have come from specified territories included in Bangladesh before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985 can be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals if they are not Indian citizens.
According to an official release on Wednesday, the Home Ministry sent a letter to Assam government on September 24 after a delegation from the All Assam Gorkha Students's Union recently met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and represented that some Gorkha community members living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners' Tribunals.
The Home Ministry communication stated that the members of the Gorkha community, who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution or those who are Indian citizens by birth or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955, are not "foreigners" in terms of section 2 (a) of The Foreigners Act,1946 as well as the Registration of Foreigners Act,1939.
"Therefore, such cases will not be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals," said the communication.
It further emphasized that any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality and who has arrived in India by land or air over the Nepal border even without a passport or visa and staying in India for any length of time shall not be treated as an illegal migrant if he or she has any documents showing their Nepalese nationality.
The individual should have identity documents like Nepalese passport, Nepalese citizenship certificate, voter identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal, limited validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India when deemed necessary.
For the Nepalese children between the age group of 10-18 years, the Home Ministry letter said, they should have photo ID issued by the principal of the school, or valid travel documents if accompanied by parents. No such document is required for children below the age group of 10 years, the communication added citing provisions of India-Nepal Treaty signed in 1950.
It said the cases of members of Gorkha community falling within the parameters mentioned earlier should not be referred to the Foreigner Tribunals for an opinion as to whether the person is a "foreigner" within the meaning of The Foreigners Act, 1946.
The communication clarified that only those individuals, who have come from specified territories, including Bangladesh immediately before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, to the State of Assam, and are not Indian citizens, can be referred to the Foreigners tribunals.
A Home Ministry official said that there was no problem in Gorkhas coming and residing here, the problem is that they put their name for getting voter identity cards which is not correct. "They are citizens but cannot vote."
He said that the names of Gorkhas or the individuals who are residing in Assam post-1950-51 were referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.
(With inputs from agencies.)