India will make it mandatory for foreign visitors to give their fingerprints from 2014 when an ambitious project to interlink foreign missions and immigration offices across India will be commissioned.
The system will also allow security agencies to generate software-aided passenger profiles to identify "risky travellers" such as Lashkar operative David Coleman Headley, a government official told HT.
The software will collect information about other countries visited by the person and raise a concern in case he had visited Pakistan frequently.
"Under this project, intelligent document scanners and biometric machines would be installed at all foreign missions, immigration check posts and foreigners' registration offices to identify the visitor," a home ministry official said.
Several countries, including the US and the UK have already introduced biometrics for foreign visitors. The biometric rollout began in France last summer — initially aimed at foreign students intending to stay in the country for more than three months.
Even as the project — targeted to be completed at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore — tightens the security regime, it would also simplify the procedure for foreigners to register or extend their stay in the country.
The home ministry's foreigners division has already started an online application system to fix appointments for foreigners with visa officers in Delhi and allow visa seekers from Pakistan, Bangladesh and UK to make their first visa request online.
Over 5 million tourists come to Indian annually. But 50,000 of them — mostly from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — overstay every year.