Gangtok:Three foreign nationals, two identified as Koreans and one Chinese National, had been staying in Sikkim since February, despite their Inner Line Permit expiring months ago. They had come to the state to work on Power Grid in Samardung in South Sikkim, but following the COVID-19 induced lockdown, they were stranded for months with no valid ILP.
The matter was brought to the notice of Sikkim Police in South District on Thursday. However, two different perspectives have made the matter a topic of discussion. Meanwhile, Sikkim Police headquarters maintains that a case has been registered, the South District Police asserts that the case has not been registered.
Speaking with EastMojo, Sikkim Police DIG Range Prawin Gurung said, “We have already registered a case, they are the expert working in Power Grid in Samardung, they have a valid passport and visa and had come to work for the Power Grid. They entered Sikkim before the lockdown, but their ILP had expired. Technically there is a case we have registered but considering their role in Power Grid Corporation, we have to regularise their ILP”.
The spokesperson for Sikkim Police further maintained, “There is nothing serious about it, they are Korean citizens and one Chinese. Technically there is a case because they had not extended their Inner Line Permit which they were supposed to, but they were genuinely working for the state. If they are working as such, we will have to extend their stay. They are not spies or criminals; the special branch and Intelligence Bureau are bound to look into the matter. Upon their inquiry it was found out that they were staying without extending their ILP”.
SP South Thakur Thapa claimed that no case has been registered against the individuals. “Government of India has given some relaxation for foreign nationals stranded. Until these international flights resume, they are allowed to stay. Their ILP has been cancelled, but they are given relaxation to stay according to Foreigner Registration Office. The expiry of ILP happened for the two Koreans, but there are no issues with the Chinese. The Koreans had some issue, so the matter is being looked upon by the Home Department”.
SP South refused to comment if they would be given extension or not. “I was told they will have to re-apply for it today. There has been no case registered so far. Initially we thought that a case should be registered, but upon further investigation, we are giving them relaxation. If a case had to be registered, it would be under the Foreigners Act and violation of Visa rules. That Chinese National has been staying legally, and he only needs to extend his ILP”.
All three have been identified as males. They had come to Samardung in February, when they were trying to revive their work after the lockdown that is how the concern came to light.
Sikkim had suspended issuing ILP to foreign nationals since early March, this year following the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, two Bangladeshi nationals were arrested from the state in mid-May, 2020 for ILP violation.
The Foreign Registration Office had charged them for violation of Central Foreign Act 1946 and illegal stay without obtaining ILP.
All foreigners are required to have ILPs to enter, and only Bhutanese National are exempted from ILP to enter Sikkim.