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Gurpreet death no deterrence to Indians with American dreams

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New Delhi/Mexico City, Oct 19 : The death of six-year-old Gurpreet Kaur in the Arizona desert in June this year, shocking as it was, was also a pointer to the sharp rise in the number of Indians seeking to surreptitiously cross into the United States from the southern border. The deportation of 311 Indians from Mexico comes amid data that over 7,000 Indians are facing deportation proceedings in US courts.

Gurpreet, along with her family, had sneaked into Arizona from Mexico. While she died of hyperthermia in the hot desert, her family merged among the millions seeking to migrate to the US with dreams of a better life.

For the National Migration Institute (INM) of Mexico, the deportation of the 311 Indians, comprising 310 men and one woman, was the first case of flying back such a huge number of illegal migrants.

In a statement, the INM said: “There is no precedent in the history of the INM – neither in the form, nor in the number of people – of a transatlantic air conduction, such as that carried out on this day,” said the Mexican agency that is under the Ministry of Interior.

The Indians had entered Mexico irregularly and were found on different dates in eight different parts of the country.

The Indians had been detained in Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Sonora, Durango, Baja California and Mexico City before being transferred to the migrants’ centre in Acayucan, Veracruz, for identification and transfer to Toluca.

The INM was constantly in touch with the Indian embassy in Mexico to confirm their Indian citizenship, after which they were put on a Boeing 747 charter flight from Toluca to New Delhi on Wednesday. They were accompanied by migration agents and national guards.

“This was carried out thanks to the excellent communication and coordination with the Embassy of that Asian country, with which the recognition and return of these citizens was worked under strict adherence to the Migration Law,” added the Mexican agency.

The Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment on the issue. However, a source said that India does not support illegal immigration anywhere in the world. But in cases where the rights of documented Indian migrants are affected, including in the US, the Indian government takes up their case.

The deportation of the 311 Indians came after the Mexican government deployed thousands of National Guard troops at the border with Guatemala in June following pressure from US President Donald Trump, who threatened to levy tariffs on Mexican goods if Mexico did not slow the flow of drugs and migrants to the US.

According to the INM, nearly 4,800 Asian migrants – of whom 2,823 were from India – were referred to the Mexican immigration agency during the first eight months of this year.

Mexican authorities have reported cases of Indians being picked up as they walked along roads of eastern Mexico or were being transported by traffickers in cargo vehicles, along with central Americans.

The Mexican police recently arrested two leaders of a traffickers’ organization that got Indian migrants to Mexico through the airport in Cancun, Quintana Roo (southeast), and then pushed them into the US by bus.

According to figures, in 2019, over 7,000 Indians were involved in deportation proceedings in courts across the US. India figured among the top 10 nations whose citizens were undergoing asylum hearings in the US, after Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba and Venezuela.

The death of Gurupreet Kaur and now the deportation of the 311 Indians has brought the focus on Indians seeking to cross into the US border without documentation.

According to the Washington-headquartered Migration Policy Institute, between 2010 and 2014, there were 2,67,000 undocumented Asian Indian immigrants in the US.

US Border Control figures show a massive jump in the number of Indians seeking to slip in illegally into the US. In 2008, there were 77 Indian nationals seeking asylum in the US, which jumped to 3,000 in 2017, and tripled to 8,997 in 2018.

While Indians made up just one per cent of the total illegal migrants apprehended in 2018, the sharp rise in numbers has been striking.

Between 2007 and 2018, the number of Indians apprehended rose from 188 to 9,234 – an increase of more than 4,811 percent, according to CQ Roll Call’s analysis of Customs and Border Protection data. The greatest jump was along the southern border, where Indian apprehensions in the same time period increased from 76 to 8,997.

The number of migrants from Asian countries entering Mexico to go to the US has grown since 2016, and especially since April last year, according INM data.

According to a North American Punjabi Association report of last November, 2,400 Indians were languishing in US jails for illegally crossing the border.

According to NAPA figures of October last year, 377 Indians were detained at California’s Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center, 269 at Imperial Regional Adult Detention Facility, 245 at the Federal Correctional Institution Victorville, and 115 at Washington State’s Tacoma ICE Processing Center.

Most of the Indians who seek to migrate illegally are from Punjab, as was also the case of the 311 Indians.

The traffickers reportedly lure young Punjabis to migrate to the US illegally and charge between Rs 35-50 lakh per individual.

Almost 6,00,000 migrants arrived at the southern US border from Mexico till June this year, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Mexico deployed 6,000 National Guard troops on its southern border in June as part of measures to reduce migration in the wake of its agreement with the US, which had threatened to ley a 5 per cent tariff on Mexican exports to the US.

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JNU protest leads to massive traffic snarls in central Delhi

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JNU students protest outside campus

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Massive traffic snarls were reported in central Delhi on Monday as hundreds of protesting students of JNU were stopped from marching towards Parliament which also led to them scuffling with the police.

The authorities also shut the entry and exit gates at three Delhi Metro stations near Parliament to prevent the students from approaching parliament.

Earlier, the police put up barricades near Safdarjung Tomb to stop the students from marching towards Parliament, which began its winter session on Monday.

The students, protesting against the hostel fee hike, gathered near Safdarjung Tomb to continue their protest. They shouted slogans demanding a fee hike roll back.

The Delhi Metro said in a statement it would not have trains at Udyog Bhawan and Patel Chowk, while the Exit/Entry Gates for Udyog Bhawan, Patel Chowk and Central Secretariat have been closed temporarily.

Massive traffic jams were reported in the areas near Safdarjung Hospital, Arabindo Marg, AIIMS and Safdarjung Tomb.

Earlier, with posters in hand and chanting anti-fee hike slogans, hundreds of students marched on the streets of Delhi. The students defied the imposition of Section 144 that prevents gathering of more than four persons in one place, to continue with their protest march to parliament.

As police put up barricades, the JNU climbed over the barricades, leading to scuffles with the police.

“The students are struggling hard to clear the barricades installed by the Delhi police, but they admit that they might not reach parliament because of heavy police and CRPF deployment in the way,” a student said.

The protest march is against the hostel fee hike.

The protest was held even as the Education Secretary addressed their concern by a partial roll back and on Monday announced a new committee to open dialogue with the students.

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Congress slams Centre for disallowing MPs to visit Kashmir

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adhir ranjan chowdhury congress

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Centre for denying permission to members of Parliament to visit Jammu and Kashmir and giving access to members of the European Union in the region, making Kashmir an “international issue”.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Chowdhury demanded the release of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to attend the winter session of the Parliament which will culminate on December 13.

Abdullah has been in detention in Kashmir since August 5 when the Central government abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state.

The Congress leader also demanded the release of senior party leader P. Chidambaram, who is currently in Tihar jail in INX Media case.

The treasury bench raised objection when Chowdhury used a derogatory term for members of the European Union to which Speaker Om Birla assured to examine and expunge the remark.

“Our leader Rahul Gandhi was not allowed to visit the Valley, but European leaders were given permission. Kashmir is an internal issue, but this government has made it an international issue,” Chowdhury said.

Terming Centre’s move an “atrocity” not to allow Abdullah to attend Lok Sabha proceedings, the Congress leader accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of lying on the whereabouts of Abdullah in monsoon session of Parliament.

“Four important leaders – Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and External Affairs Minister – are not present in the House. Home Minister Amit Shah had assured us in August that Abdullah was not in detention, but 108 days later he is still not here. What is the reason?”, he asked.

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla interrupted, saying “when Home Minister Amit Shah had informed the House in the previous session that Abdullah was not under detention, he was correct. The written information of his detention was received later by the Lok Sabha secretariat.”

The Congress along with National Conference, Nationalist Congress Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Dravida Munetra Kazhgam had raised the issue to release Abdullah during the Question Hour and also trooped near Speaker’s podium, sloganeering “stop dividing the country”.

Chowdhury also raised the issue of withdrawal of Special Protection Group cover of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi family and reminded how late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee remained under SPG protection during UPA rule.

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Executive must ensure greater respect for Rajya Sabha: Manmohan

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Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Nov 18 : The Rajya Sabha as the council of states should be given “greater respect by the executive”, and should have been consulted before the “drastic measures” were taken of converting a state into Union Territories and redrawing of its boundaries, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday, in direct criticism of the government’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir.

Addressing the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the winter session, the senior Congress leader said that it is “a very important duty” of the Rajya Sabha to “ensure that no law is passed in a moment of heightened emotion”, — again a reference to the August 5 move by Parliament to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to Jammu & Kashmir, and convert it into two UTs of J&K and Ladakh.

Singh suggested several measures to make the Rajya Sabha more effective and give it more teeth, including that the Upper House be allowed to discuss and deliberate important measures in greater depth.

He also said that Parliament should follow the practice for all Bills to be brought before the Upper House. But Article 110 allows the Lok Sabha “precedence in money bills”, he said.

“We have seen misuse of money bills leading to bypassing of the Rajya Sabha without any deliberation,” he said, adding that Parliament should “ensure that such instances are avoided as this reduces the stature of the institution.”

He said the Upper House has a central role to play in the form of “checks and balances to a majority government” as it presents the interests of the states.

He said that the Rajya Sabha being half in size of the Lok Sabha the members do not get time to share their insights.

He suggested that the House be allowed to study issues in more depth, and those with expertise should be allowed more time with their speeches in the House.

He said the Rajya Sabha should be given more time to study centre-state relations as this is a council of states. He also suggested a discussion by the Upper House on the “state of the nation’s health and on the state of education”.

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