India, UK discuss extradition, visa issue in first bilateral Home Affairs

India and UK held their first Home Affairs Dialogue on Thursday which discussed matters of extradition, deporting illegal immigrants, sharing of criminal data and curbing organised crime. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Maharishi led the talk with the UK delegation led by Patsy Wilkinson, Second Permanent Secretary, Home Office, and Government of UK. The dialogue also touched upon making the visa process easier. The meeting was a follow up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the UK in November, 2016.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in an official communiqué: “Both sides expressed satisfaction in matters relating to extradition of wanted persons. The process involved in matters of extradition and the need to further improve them were also discussed.”

Extradition has been a topic of hot debate between the countries. India has struggled in its attempts to extradite wanted persons from the UK to India, most recently runaway liquor baron Vijay Mallya. The UK has also been holding out in order negotiate the issue of illegal immigrants and their deportation.

“Both sides agreed to address the challenges of illegal migrants. The two sides will work together to ensure smooth return of Indians overstaying in UK subject to nationality verification,” it said.

It raised the issue of tackling organised crime and how it was vital to share criminal data to achieve that objective. Both countries didn’t decide on increasing the level of cooperation in this regard.

“Regarding criminal data sharing and strengthening cooperation in tackling serious and organised crimes, the two sides expressed their satisfaction in the existing level of cooperation. Both sides also agreed to enhance and strengthen further the bilateral cooperation and work towards formalising the arrangements.”

Education is a major point of engagement for the two countries. For decades, Indian students have been visiting the UK for education and research purposes. In recent years, the UK has made its student visa-related processes more stringent. This was one of the key issues discussed in the meeting.

“India raised the issue of visa related difficulties faced by Indian students, skilled professional and dependents of Indian diplomats. UK side assured that this would be looked into. The UK side mentioned that it has been their constant endeavour to improve the visa process to promote people to people exchanges that exist between the two countries. The UK side also briefed about the progress regarding the registered travelling services and great club announcements which were made during UK Prime Minister’s visit in 2016.”

The dialogue also touched upon the issues of anti-terrorism and the need to check rising cyber crimes.

“Both India and UK laid emphasis on cooperation on anti- terrorism mechanism and to strengthen mutual support to check cyber crimes. Both sides agreed to formalise these arrangements.”