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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 18:12 GMT
India to deport Pakistani illegals
Indian and Pakistani soldiers at the border
Travel across the border has been severely restricted
India has launched a campaign to deport thousands of Pakistanis who are in the country illegally.

More than 11,000 Pakistanis are staying in the country illegally, according to the Junior Home Minister C Vidyasagar Rao.

With terrorism and all these violent incidents taking place, it has become all the more important to locate these Pakistani nationals

C Vidyasagar Rao, Junior Home Minister
The figure includes 8,000 people who have not returned to their country after the expiry of their visas.

Mr Rao said the move was in response to recent militant attacks, which India has often blamed on Pakistani nationals.

India had also stepped up screening of Pakistanis wanting to travel to India, the minister said.

He told the BBC that a checks on visa applications last year showed that 90% had given fake Pakistani addresses.

Tighter controls

"With terrorism and all these violent incidents taking place, it has become all the more important to locate these Pakistani nationals who are staying here unauthorised," Mr Rao said.

The Indian Government, he said, was determined to arrest and send back these Pakistani nationals.

The Home Ministry is also considering plans to reduce the number of destinations a Pakistani can travel to in India - from 12 to three.

Mr Rao said there were also plans to pin responsibility on the Indian sponsors of Pakistanis visiting the country.

This would serve as a check on those trying to illegally extend their stay in India, he said.

Links severed

The minister, however, said Delhi would take a sympathetic view of genuine cases.

He said his ministry would favourably consider giving Indian citizenship to women who had married Indians as well as Hindu refugees from Pakistan.

India blames Pakistan for what it calls cross-border terrorism. Islamabad denies the charge.

The number of visitors between the two countries declined sharply after a militant attack on India's parliament last December.

As tensions grew, both countries virtually closed all road, rail and air links.

See also:

30 Sep 02 | South Asia
09 Dec 02 | South Asia
24 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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