India to make fingerprinting must for Pak, UK, US citizens
Under an ambitious project to keep track of foreigners in the country, the government plans to take fingerprints of American, British and Pakistani nationals when they apply for visas.delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2012 22:58 IST
Under an ambitious project to keep track of foreigners in the country, the government plans to take fingerprints of American, British and Pakistani nationals when they apply for visas. The government may launch the project within six months and would cover all countries by September 2014.
In the initial period, the biometric enrolment would cover ten fingerprints and will later include a photograph as well.
The biometric enrolment - part of a Rs.1,000-crore project to put the paper-based visa and immigration system online - would be tweaked on the basis of the lessons learnt in the first phase that would only cover the three countries.
Government officials said the USA and United Kingdom were selected because they account for the largest number of foreign visitors to India; 1.8 million out of the total 6.3 million foreign tourist arrivals.
Visitors from Pakistan, on the other hand, figure high on the watch list due to fears that elements linked to terrorists could slip into the country.
These concerns would heighten once the two countries sign a liberalised visa regime that would make it easier for a selected group to get visas.
Combined with the National Population Register that seeks to collect biometrics and issue a unique identity number for every resident, a senior government official said the immigration's biometric project would also help ensure that foreigners from neighbouring countries did not disappear to claim citizenship or passports.
There are about 1,200 Pakistanis who entered the country on a valid visa but later disappeared. The number of Bangladeshis who disappeared over the last decade averages to about 20,000 annually.