A first-of-its-kind programme, aided with the latest equipment, has been launched to keep track on suspicious foreigners in India. It will also reduce the visa woes for millions of tourists and NRIs who visit the country each year.
A project to introduce high-level technology in visa issuance was conceived after New Delhi learnt a bitter lesson following the David Coleman Headley episode. Headley, a US passport holder, had a business visa for India but was working for the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the terror outfit, and filmed all possible places in Mumbai that were attacked by terrorists in November 2008. Headley has confessed to his crime. Currently, he is lodged in a Chicago jail. He had remained above suspicion as he masqueraded as a US businessman who frequented Mumbai and lived a high life. He also visited Pakistan to hob-nob with Hafiz Saeed and two Majors of the Pakistan Army attached to the spy agency ISI.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs launched the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) system yesterday. This has been developed to provide a secure and integrated service framework that facilitates legitimate travellers while strengthening security, a ministry spokesperson said.
This facilitates improved tracking of foreigners by integrating and sharing information captured during visa issuance at missions abroad, during immigration check at integrated check posts (ICPs) and during registration at Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). The plan will provide convergence and integration with other schemes such as e-passports, e-migration and the upcoming crime and criminal tracking network system (CCTNS) for decision-making at the time of issuing a visa. It will also manage the Central Advance Passenger Information System, meaning the passenger manifest of each incoming flight into India will be screened through the data base.
The systems will allow authentication of a traveler’s identity at the missions, Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) and Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) through use of intelligent document scanners and biometrics. Online registration of foreigners at the time of grant of visa and automated updation of the particulars of the foreigners at entry and exit points is one of the features.
For the tourists and the millions of people of Indian origin who visit India, the project will facilitate services like on-line application forms, 24X7 on-line channel, phone support for grievance redressal and e-mail/SMS support for dissemination of information, application status and feedback. Specified time limits have been set for each service to be provided for travellers.
All missions abroad will be connected to the central server and before any visa is issued, the data bases will screen out possible frequent visitors and why they keep coming. It will profile passengers identifying ‘risky travellers’ at missions abroad, ICPs and FROs, and generate automated alerts about overstay.
Recently, the MHA has deported a handful of Europeans who had come on tourist visa but were touch with naxal leaders in central India.
- All the missions abroad will be connected to the central server
- Before any visa is issued, the data bases will screen out possible frequent visitors
- It will profile passengers identifying ‘risky travellers’
- It will generate automated alerts about their overstay.
- The system will facilitate tracking of foreigners by integrating and sharing information captured at various stages of visa issuance, immigration checks
- The system has been already implemented at 60 Indian missions
- The remaining missions will be covered in the next two years