The central government on Wednesday said that members of the Gorkha community living in Assam can neither be sent to detention centres nor can cases on their citizenship status be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, The Hindu reported.

In a letter to the state government, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the Gorkhas who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or those who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalisation according to the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955, cannot be termed “foreigners”. Such cases, therefore, cannot be referred to the foreigners’ tribunals.

The government confirmed that Gorkha members holding Nepalese nationality and who arrived in India by land or air even without a passport or visa, and who have been staying in India for any length of time, will not be treated as illegal migrants if they can produce any Nepalese identity documents. For children below the age of 10, no identification documents are required under provisions of the India-Nepal Treaty signed in 1950.

Last month, the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union informed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh of a few cases of Gorkhas being referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, reported The Assam Tribune.

After the National Register of Citizens was published in June, more than 1 lakh Gorkhas found their names missing in the final draft. Assam has a Gorkha population of nearly 2.5 million. Some of these cases were referred to the Foreigners Tribunal as the citizens’ names were included in the voters’ list in contravention to the India-Nepal Treaty signed in 1950 that bars them from Indian citizenship, said an unidentified ministry official.