The UPA government’s political compulsions seem to have put on hold plans for biometric scanning of visa seekers from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has been a haven for ISI activity; recently Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun admitted that ISI is actively operating in the country and warned Pakistan that Bangladesh will not tolerate the ISI or terrorists to operate and would be arrested if discovered.
India’s inability to deliver on its promises like Teesta and the land boundary agreement to the Sheikh Hasina government also plays a part in mollifying Dhaka, by dropping Bangladesh from its list of countries to implement the biometric pilot project.
The Sheikh Hasina government has been asking India to speed up projects and give special sops, with an eye to show results before the next general election in late 2013.
So far, no government has been re-elected in Bangladesh.
“Bangladeshis already complain that getting an Indian visa takes a long time. Then, when the IVFRT was brought there, there were complaints that accepting only online applications was not practical in a country where internet penetration is very low,” said the official.
Another MEA official argued that Bangladesh was dropped as it would have been technically complicated, due to its large number of applications and seven visa applications centres, including the Dhaka mission.
“Remember, we issue 2,500-3,000 visas daily in Bangladesh. Technically, it will be a major headache to capture biometric data for all applicants,” said the senior official.
Incidentally, a team that had gone to Pakistan recently to explore ways to collect biometric data was confronted by technical challenges.
“The embassy is not yet ready to spare the manpower to do the extra work. So now we are waiting for a green light from them after are able to find out requisite personnel,” said a senior government official.