India Rejects UK’s Proposal of Using DNA Testing to Confirm Nationality of Overstayers

India reportedly cited privacy and ethics issues to turn down UK's proposal over use of DNA testing to confirm the nationality of illegal immigrants.


The Indian government has rejected a proposal from the United Kingdom over the use of DNA testing to confirm the nationality of illegal immigrants. India cited privacy and ethics issues to turn down the plan, the Hindu reported, citing sources.

“In one of the meetings, the U.K. authorities suggested that the nationality of document-less illegal migrants suspected to be Indians could be established by matching DNA samples of their family members living here. We raised objections that this was a breach of privacy and unethical. How do we know that the document-less person is an Indian,” the publication quoted a senior Home Ministry official as saying.

A Memorandum of Understanding on return of illegal migrants was approved in January by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, but India chose not to sign the final draft of the pact when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United Kingdom in April this year.

The MoU specified that Indian security agencies would verify the antecedents of the immigrants who do not possess any documents within 72 days while the time frame was set as 15 days for persons who carried identification papers. If no report was filed within the given frame, the immigrant would be deported from the United Kingdom, according to the MoU. But the pact was kept on indefinite hold after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval conveyed that the 15-day limit was unworkable, the report added.

The British government is also at variance with the Indian government over the estimated number of illegal Indians living in the United Kingdom. While the UK government says that the number of Indians staying illegally is as high as 100,000, the Indian government puts the figure at 2,000.

The issue of Indians overstaying their visas or entering the United Kingdom illegally has been a regular subject of discussion between the two countries. The UK government is keen on to expedite the process of identifying illegal immigrants and returning them to their countries.

The final agreement over return of illegal immigrants was expected to be signed during Modi’s visit to Britain in April, but was put off due to issues such as consent clause, security concerns and fear of large-scale deportation.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in June this year that she will not ease steps to crack down on illegal immigration. Members of the public in the United Kingdom want to know that the government is taking action against people who come to the country in an illegal manner, May had said in Quebec, Canada, where she was attending the G7 summit.

The Indian government’s refusal to sign a deal on the return of illegal immigrants was one of the reasons India was not offered relaxed visa norms for students in June, UK’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox had said at the time.

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