76 foreign nationals on hunger strike at Delhi detention camp!

Inmates are protesting inhuman living conditions such as lack of proper drinking water

Image Courtesy:clarionindia.net

On Tuesday, as many as 76 inmates of a detention centre in New Delhi went on hunger strike protesting the substandard conditions in which they are forced to live. Muslim Mirror reported that these foreign nationals hail from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Spain and many different African nations.

The inmates complained about the poor sanitation, inedible food, and lack of proper drinking water that forced them to purchase water from outside. They also claimed that they were not provided basic items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps etc. Some elderly inmates also complained about being denied hot water for bathing and blankets to fend against the winter.

A team from the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) comprising N.D. Pancholi, Sheoraj Singh and Arun Maji, visited the facility located in Narela. Subsequently they shared their findings in a statement: “There is no provision for drinking water and inmates are forced to buy the same from outside. There is no cleanliness in spite of the much propagated ‘Swachhata Abhiyan’ (Cleanliness Drive) of the government. The lavatories and bath rooms continue to remain dirty and repulsive to use. Some inmates of old age require hot water for bathing and blankets but there is no arrangement for the same. There are some other complaints also. In spite of repeated representation there is no redressal.”

Detention centres are facilities where foreign nationals found to have illegally entered India or having committed crimes are lodged pending deportation. Pancholi, a Supreme Court advocate however told Muslim Mirror that many of the inmates who were serving sentences had completed their five or seven-year jail terms. He further said that a few inmates are his clients but they are yet to be released by the government so that they can fly back home. 

It is noteworthy that the conversation around the concept of detention centers picked up momentum in wake of the proposed National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) about which there is still a great deal of ambiguity despite the government’s attempts at allaying fears. New detention centres are coming up in different states including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, West Bengal and even Assam, where there are already six-makeshift detention camps that operate out of district jails. If the condition at the Delhi detention centre is anything to go by, one can assume that things wouldn’t be very different in any of the upcoming facilities.

What is widely ignored though is the entire question of citizenship and the need to flee hostile regimes that often leads people to sneak into other countries illegally. The other more diabolical aspect of the citizenship conundrum is the heightened pitch by the regime to link it to religion, thereby causing much anxiety among people who don’t belong to religions that are welcome. In India when it comes to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) the exclusion of Muslims is glaring and undeniable. No amount of gaslighting or obfuscation of the truth will justify the communally divisive and exclusionary aspect of the Act.


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