Dharamsala witnessing illegal overstay of foreigners

ANI, August 28, 2005

Dharamshala, India -- Queen of the hills, Dharamshala, is thronged with thousands of foreigners coming from different countries to study Tibetan Buddhism.

These foreigners were welcomed, but what is causing concern, now, is that many of them are overstaying after their visas have expired.

Recently the police booked a Japanese couple from the Upper McLeodganj area for overstaying. They were arrested under the Foreigners Act for not having their visas updated.

"A Japanese couple has been arrested after raids were conducted in hotels and guest houses. They came here in 1997. Their visas have long expired and very conveniently they forgot to get their visas renewed. They have been keeping themselves busy learning about Tibetan religion and other religions of our country", says SP Singh, Superintendent of Police, Kangra district.

Social workers and locals are, however, agitated that the administration is not doing enough to control the illegal stay.

"Any person who is a Non- Indian is a foreigner. He is expected to have his visa and other travel documents checked. If the visa expires then he is expected to renew it after speaking to the concerned authority. There is a computer to check as to who's visa has expired and who's has not. There are also officials deployed for the same. But nothing much is done", says Prem Sagar, a travel agent.

Residents fear that the abode of the Dalai Lama is fast being converted into a hub of illegal foreigners, which is seriously affecting their business.