As Chinese Nationals Found Illegally Living in India, Concerns Grow about Those Sneaking in at The Borders

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The discovery of nearly 30 Chinese nationals illegally residing a few kilometres away from the national capital has raised the eyebrows of central intelligence agencies.

Though authorities are yet to find anything concrete on the possibility of spying as per an intelligence report circulated to other forces and agencies, there have been other cases of Chinese nationals illegally living in different parts of India, mainly in metropolitan cities, and particularly after the pandemic, said sources. The agencies also suspect that many of these people have obtained fake Indian identity cards.

The agencies and the government are more worried about cases of people sneaking into India rather than of those just illegally living here, as they believe the Noida incident is not an isolated one. Officials say it is much easier to track those who reside in India even after their visa expiration than those who crept into India from the border and stayed somewhere in the country, as one such case was detected by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) recently.

Adding to the concerns, Chinese nationals illegally staying in India managed to procure documents such as Aadhaar, Indian passports, etc, based on fake identities, like in a case in Noida.

According to a top government official, union home ministry representatives have raised issues of easy and illegal entry-exit from the borders and stays of Chinese nationals in Indian cities. The matter has already been discussed in a high-level meeting with top officials, sources said.

Afterwards, central intelligence agencies also sent multiple inputs to concerned units regarding Chinese nationals illegally residing in India. But tracing such people is not easy, said sources.

“There may be more cases where Chinese people entered into Indian territory from other neighbouring countries’ borders and didn’t leave. It is tough to trace them but agencies are coordinating with states to trace such nationals. One such case has been unearthed by SSB recently,” a senior government official said.

The trigger

Noida police, which apprehended close to 30 such Chinese nationals, started a special drive after border-guarding force Sashtra Seema Bal (SSB) caught two Chinese people at the India-Nepal border who were trying to flee after staying in Noida illegally.

On June 11, the force apprehended Yung Hai Lung and Lo Lung. Later, they were handed over to Bihar police and, during interrogation, it was found that they stayed in Noida.

The duo lived for 15 days at the dwelling of another Chinese national, identified as Xue Fei, who procured fake Indian documents like a passport from West Bengal, helped by another co-accused, Petekhrinuo, said officials. During the investigation, Noida police found that Xue Fei was running a club in Greater Noida and had huge earnings. So far, the investigation has not established espionage.

However, Noida police have launched a drive and about 30 Chinese people illegally overstaying in India have been detained.

On July 13, police arrested 14 such Chinese nationals. All of them were associated with a private company. They had valid passports but expired visas.

Noida not the only place

In March, Gurugram police arrested a Chinese national, identified as Wang Yanam. He was living in the country even after visa expiration. Similarly, this month, Himachal Pradesh police arrested a female Chinese national who was later sent to 14-day judicial custody for living in India for the past two years without a valid visa and passport.

Challenges and coordination issues

According to a senior Bureau of Immigration official, it repeatedly sends details to states about visitors who are overstaying in India, including Chinese nationals. “Hardly any state takes action. In the recent cases of Noida, action was taken after two Chinese nationals were arrested from Bihar. The IB also from time to time sends inputs regarding this but states have to act swiftly,” he told News18.

But, police officials say that central agencies send no specific inputs, just basic details, which makes it tough for them to trace those foreigners who have changed their addresses. “Central agencies as well as we also maintain data of foreign nationals residing in states, and districts. But in case they change their addresses and move to different places, it becomes tough for us to trace them. District police are also responsible for law and order issues, which require continuous monitoring,” a senior official of Uttar Pradesh police said.

Another issue is that if there are more cases where Chinese people enter India through a porous border, it is nearly impossible for any agency or police to trace them until they get caught.

“We do check persons entering India or moving out towards Nepal, but it is not possible to intercept everyone when the border is not fenced completely. We do profiling of visitors but there are gaps, and that has been taken up by the force headquarters,” a senior SSB official said.

Visa numbers

According to the ministry of external affairs, a total of 20,607 foreigners were staying in India on employment visas as of December 2, 2021, and 41,51,758 foreigners departed from India during the period between January 1, 2020, and November 30, 2021. The number of Chinese nationals who were granted student visas from 2016 to 2021 was 2,953. Similarly, 1,783 Chinese nationals had been given employment visas till December 2021. Data also shows that the number of visas issued by the ministry has seen a massive dip from 2019 to 2021.

As per the government’s data, the total number of foreigners overstaying from before 2019 up to December 31, 2021, was 3,93,431, including Chinese nationals.

Action taken by Centre

The union home ministry on Tuesday told Parliament that as many as 81 Chinese nationals were given ‘leave India’ notices and 117 others from that country were deported for violating visa conditions and other illegal acts between 2019 and 2021. Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai also said that 726 Chinese nationals were placed on the ‘adverse list’ for violating visa conditions and other illegal acts.

The minister said the government maintains records of such foreigners, including Chinese nationals, who enter India with valid travel documents.

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