World Refugee Day commemorates the obstacles that Refugees face each year. It also honours their courage and strength, on June 20th the United Nations observes the World Refugee Day.
The United Nations High Commission has set up #WithRefugees petition to create an action plan to bring about solidarity and global responsibility on behalf of refugee. Asylum seekers differ from Refugees as they are individuals who have sought international protection and their claim for refugee status has not yet been determined.
According to the UN-refugee body as of 2015 there are about 2,07,861 persons of concern and 6,480 asylum seeks. India has offered sheltered to Tibetans, the chakmas the Afghans and ethnic Srilankan Tamils. Despite of one of the largest refugee population in South Asia we are yet to enact an uniform law that addresses the issue of asylum.
Interestingly none of the domestic laws speak in reference to the term “refugee” India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention on the status of Refugees nor has the 1967 protocol dealing with rights and services the host state must provide the refugees been signed. Though there is an informal refuge regime, parallel to the international one, no formal asylum policy is devised; the decision for granting of asylum is ad hoc and case-to-case basis. In 2015 the congress MP Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member bill called the asylum bill 2015 it is to provide for the establishment of a legal framework to harmonize India’s refugee policy, this has not yet been taken up for consideration.
The Tibetans who came seeking asylum in 1959 along with the Dalai Lama were treated as refugee’s and given land and housing, it since been discontinued. They can avail all the privileges of an Indian citizen though they cannot vote or take government jobs provided they have a registration certificate (RC) the RC a prerequisite to live in India is issued by the passport office Delhi on recommendations of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Delhi.
The Sri Lankan Tamil refugees could be either camp refugees or non-camp refugees this depends on the socio-economic parameter. They cannot vote or own property though they can own cattle and purchase things for domestic use. The identity card is issued either for the family or to individuals, and it would document details of the names, age, relationships, gender, date and location of arrival in India their education background and the address in SriLanka, the camp revenue inspector also issues a refugee certificate which is required for them to return to SriLanka.
Since July 2016 the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jains Parsis and Christians refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan staying in India on Term Visa’s have been regularized, they are allowed to open bank accounts, purchase property for self occupation and suitable accommodation for carrying out self employment, take self-employment and obtain documents like driving licenses, PAN cards and Aadhar numbers. They are also given privileges like free movement within the state or union Territory; transfer fo visa paper from one state to the other, waiver of penalty on non-extension of short-term or long term visas on time.
Bangladeshi’s and Pakistani’s who belong to minority communities and have entered India on or before Dec.31,2014 have exempted from relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport Act 1920 (Entry into India) and the Foreigners Act 1946 with respect to their entry and stay in India without documents or after the expiry of those documents.