US, UK citizens staying illegally pose threat too That many Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are staying illegally in India is known to most of us. What many might not be aware of is that there are a number of nationals from first world countries as well who have overstayed their welcome here, for various reasons. The arrest and subsequent interrogation of David Headley, an American national-turned-LeT jihadi, has put the spotlight on the grave threat to India's national security from outsiders - over the past few years, various police agencies have booked foreigners from more than 45 countries living illegally in India. Information compiled by the Union home ministry shows that in 2008, 65,149 foreign nationals were found living in India even after their visas had expired. The same year, 13,995 foreigners had to be deported from the country. The figures for 2009 are still being compiled. What comes as a big surprise is that a few thousand citizens from several first world countries like the US, UK, New Zealand, Germany and even Japan and South Korea are living illegally in India. The list also included 479 Chinese. "Not all of them may be as innocent as it seems. It is not enough to say that they stayed on with friends or relatives, lost track of time exploring India or overstayed a work permit; these are the usual excuses," said a police officer. "Headley has redefined the meaning of India's threat perception," said an intelligence official who spoke to TOI on condition of anonymity. He said that for long, citizens of friendly or developed countries were not on the radar of security agencies. "It is because of this that terror groups are increasingly turning to recruits from these groups to carry out their work. This was shown in the case of Headley in Mumbai and in America where the failed Times Square bomb attack was carried out by their own naturalized citizen," he explained. Police in various states have discovered citizens of Afghanistan, Yemen and even Iraq living illegally in India. "We are a vast country and it is easy to disappear in the population. Human rights people say several foreigners are here escaping persecution. In that case they must register and seek asylum. But as long as they are in hiding, the security forces must work to catch them and find out who they actually are and what their purpose in India is," the intelligence official said. There is a police mechanism in place to trace foreigners staying illegally. All visitors are expected to register with the regional foreigners office. Moreover, according to the Foreigners (report to the police) Order, 1971, made under the Foreigners Act, locals are bound to report the presence of any foreigner living in their midst to the nearest police station. India is also now playing host to an increasing influx of tourists, with their number going beyond five million every year. Security officials insist that they do not want to make life more difficult for ordinary tourists. "In any case we expect educated visitors from the developed world to be aware of visa laws. They know they cannot overstay without informing the authorities. We just want to be more careful about those who are duping the system to work for terror groups or organized crime syndicates," a police officer said.