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Gurpreet death no deterrence to Indians with American dreams

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Mexico Border

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.

India

Identity-based politics good for democracy: Mukherjee

He said the third victory of Indian democratic principles was the successful suppression of the radical and violent rebellion in Naxalbari through the ballot paper.

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Pranab-Mukherjee

New Delhi, Feb 23 : Former president Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said democracy and republicanism were two values people must strive to protect and cherish, and termed identity politics a positive development in relation to the deepening of democratic ethos.

He was delivering valedictory address at the 10th edition of the Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad here.

“Democracy in India gave rise to identity-based politics. Purely from the lens of deepening democracy, I see this as a positive development because it leads to wider representation. However, an electorate divided on caste and community lines throws up a polarised mandate,” Mukherjee said.

Lauding the strength of Indian democracy, the former president said it had only deepened with time and added that good governance was critically dependent on prerequisites like inviolable adherence to rule of law, existence of participatory decision-making structure, responsiveness, transparency, accountability, corruption-free society, equity and inclusiveness.

“We have entered the 71st year of our Republic. Democracy and republicanism are two values which we must not only strive to protect, but also cherish, celebrate and treasure. Democracy is the rule of, for and by the people and the Republic signifies the rule of law,” he said.

Citing instances to stress the maturity of Indian democracy, Mukherjee said the foremost achievement of the first general election lay in the fact that it cemented the painstakingly brought about unification of India.

“Despite the complex arrangement of categorisation under parts A, B, C and D of the Provinces, States, Territory and areas, the entire geographical territory of India voted as a singular electorate, electing for themselves a single Union Parliament.

“Of course, by the time the second general elections happened, the complex categorisation had been done away with, since there were just states and UTs in existence,” Mukherjee said.

He described the participation of the Communist Party of India in the Constituent Assembly elections even though they were peripherally opposed to it as a marker of the strength of Indian democracy.

He said the third victory of Indian democratic principles was the successful suppression of the radical and violent rebellion in Naxalbari through the ballot paper.

“Indian democracy and its inherent power of assimilation have successfully thwarted insurgency and separate movements, and elections have successfully co-opted varied groups into the electoral mainstream.

“The various accords — Punjab Accord, the Shillong Accord, the Mizo Accord, the Assam Accord and the recent Agreement on Bru- Reang and Bodo people — are examples of the same,” the former president added.

Mukherjee, while addressing the youth, noted that India’s tryst with democracy was a story which needs to be told time and again.

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Cities

NRC will not be implemented in Bihar: Nitish

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Nitish Kumar

Patna, Feb 23: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reiterated on Sunday that the National Register for Citizens would not be implemented in Bihar and only the National Population Register would be updated the way it was done in 2010.

The Janata Dal (United) president had in December already made its stand clear that the NRC would not be implemented in the state, though the party supported the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

“NRC is not going to be implemented here (in Bihar) and only NPR will be carried out the way it was done in the year 2010. It will be done on the basis of that only,” Kumar said in an official release.

He said this while addressing a function at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University at Chandanpatti in Hayaghat block of Darbhanga district, where he laid foundation stones for several schemes worth Rs 80 crore pertaining to minority welfare department.

Kumar laid stones for a 100-bed hostel at Biraul in Darbhanga, 100-bed hostel each for girl and boy for the university students, G plus three multi-storeyed building at waqf land and 560-capacity intake minority residential school, the release said.

Kumar had asked the Centre to drop new columns in NPR forms like parents’ places of birth and Aadhaar, saying they were “not necessary” and might lead to apprehensions.

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Cities

Anti-CAA protest turns violent in Aligarh, Internet blocked

The police lathicharged the protesters and also used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

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Aligharh Protest

Aligarh, Feb 23 : The protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) turned violent on Sunday evening after the women sitting on protest were asked to move from there.

Many shops, two-wheelers and police barricades were set ablaze and stone pelting was reported from Babri Mandi, Ghas-ki-Mandi and Upperkot.

The police lathicharged the protesters and also used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

The administration has also blocked Internet services in the area from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight.

A huge crowd has gathered to protest against the CAA and the NRC at Shahjamal Idgah here. Women protesters have been removed from Upperkot Kotwali area. The crowd has been chanting anti-government slogans.

Several Bhim Army workers were also present among the protesters at Delhi Gate and Upperkot area.

The police said the women started throwing stones at police vehicles. The police said they have identified several students of Aligarh Muslim University who are involved in the stone pelting incident.

Heavy police force has been deployed at Delhi Gate and Upperkot.

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