Wednesday, April 14, 2021
North East

Biometric device, database: Assam border police plans new way to detect ‘foreigners’

Guwahati, February 21: The Border wing of Assam Police, tasked with detecting suspected illegal foreigners and referring their cases to the 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals in the state, is set to boost accountability by introducing an electronic device to be used by its personnel while registering details of a suspected individual.
The rectangular device is fitted with a camera for photos, a biometric device to store fingerprints, and registers latitude and longitude coordinates of the location from where the data about a suspected foreigner is entered into the device.
The scope to record geographical coordinates of the place of registering data comes at a time when the border police face allegations that they are not visiting the residence or workplace of a suspected foreigner to investigate but whimsically making a reference against him or her.
“Such a machine will leave no room for subjectivity,” said Additional DGP (Border), Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.
The entering of data regarding all 900-odd inmates in Assam’s six detention camps for declared foreigners has been done with the machines and soon, border police personnel will use them to register data regarding suspected foreigners, officials said. The data entered in the device will automatically reflect in the central server at the Border police headquarters in Guwahati.
There are 39 of these machines currently with the department; officials said each police station requires three such devices. The state has 350-odd police stations. Each machine costs around Rs 1 lakh and hence the Border police plans to replace it with customised tablets – adding a fingerprint capturing device and GPS storing software – to bring down the cost.
“Storing of biometrics and latitude and longitude will definitely go a long way in creating an error-free database of illegal foreigners,” added Mahanta, referring to the department’s upcoming centralised database of suspected and declared foreigners in the state, in which any change of their status – declared Indian or foreigner, repatriated or granted bail – will be reflected immediately.
The database comes after the ongoing process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam faced problems in obtaining real-time information of suspected foreigners due to the absence of a centralised database.
The database, government documents say, will be based on the framework of the existing Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems – a Central government project for “creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing by adopting the principle of e-Governance”.
Government sources said the plan to develop the database came in the backdrop of format mismatch between data maintained by Border Police, Foreigners’ Tribunals, NRC and the Election Registration Officers, and absence of a mechanism to update the status of a “doubtful voter” after the case is disposed of by the Foreigner Tribunals.
For instance, Shah Alam Bhuyan (50), an ASI with Assam Police’s Special Branch, did not find his name in the NRC draft published in July last year although, in 2017, a Foreigners’ Tribunal had declared him “Indian”, quashing the “doubtful voter” tag on him. (Courtesy: IE)