Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti’s application for seeking Political asylum in India has been forwarded to the security agency for thorough vetting before the final decision is made by the Central Government.
The grandson of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti fled to Afghanistan in the year 2006, he has been living in Switzerland since 2010, while his application for political asylum has been pending before the Swiss government for quite some time now has been finally rejected due to his confirmed involvement in acts of terrorism. He has been known to have instigated terrorist activities in the province with information of his group almost killing 665 and injuring 1440 innocent people of Baluchistan. There have been 214 FIRs filed against his group and 42 FIRs against him alone. This puts a heavy responsibility on the security agency to scrutinize Bugti’s application thoroughly, and also to weight consequences against the information relied on by the Swiss government to reject his application.
With India having no domestic asylum law nor being a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention 1951, a debate has presented itself after this application by Bugti. Except for its Constitutional principles and Customary International Law, there are no laws or obligations that guide the present situation. Without as much as the definition of “refugee” been enumerated the Indian authorities have usually consulted The Passport (Entry of India) Act, 1920, The Passport Act, 1967, The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, The Foreigners Act, 1946, and The Foreigners Order, 1948, for asylum seekers and refugee entry. India currently hosts 32,000 refugees fleeing war, violence and severe persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq, etc. This is in addition to the 175,000 long-staying refugees from Tibet and Sri Lanka who have been given asylum over decades. The government in the absences of a formal asylum law has been granting asylum on a case by case basis. Bangladeshi Writer Taslima Nasreen has been living in India since 1994 when she was granted political asylum by India under a long term visa renewable every year.
In the year 2015 , Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had introduced a Private Member’s Bill called the Asylum Bill 2015, to have an umbrella law for refugee policies of India and to define the legal rights of such refugees and asylum seekers. The Bill hasn’t yet being taken up for discussion. This Bill in the present situation is a possibly an urgent requirement for India, so as to have a fixed procedural and substantial guideline for asylum and refugee management, for the protection of refugee rights as well to have a prepared system to tackle refugee crisis in the future.
The present case of Bugti, has given Indian authorities some food for thought, amidst political unrest in both countries along with diplomatic relations turning sour, this is perfect timing for India to move towards the making of a domestic asylum law .