The Centre on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that undocumented migrants enter the country in a “clandestine and surreptitious manner” and that their detection, detention and deportation was an “ongoing process”, NDTV reported. Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai was answering a question on whether the Centre has a record of the number of undocumented migrants in the country.

“Illegal immigrants enter into the country without valid travel documents in a clandestine and surreptitious manner,” Rai said. “Detection, detention and deportation of such illegally staying foreign nationals is an ongoing process.” However, Rai did not answer Telangana MP Dr Banda Prakash’s specific question on whether the government knows how many such migrants are present in the country, and their details.

The National Register of Citizens – an exercise to update the citizens’ database – was published on August 31 last year in Assam. It excluded around 6% of the state’s population or 19 lakh people.

The central government had repeatedly indicated its intention to conduct an all-India NRC. However, massive protests against the proposed register led the government to backtrack. It claimed in February that there had been no official discussions yet on implementing the NRC. Several non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states as well as Bihar passed resolutions against the exercise.