“There are detention camps only in Assam, but Centres being set up in States/UT”: MHA

The current session of the Parliament is prompting many revelations from the central government. While the environment is getting increasingly tense in the background of NRC, detention camps and “illegal immigrants”, the government seems to be busy being either politically correct or assumptive
detention camps
Image Courtesy: Reuters

During the question hour in Lok Sabha, on November 19, Abdul Khaleque from the Congress Party, elected from Assam, put forth a question pertaining to detention centres. The question directed to the Minister of Home Affairs asked whether there were any detention camps for foreigners in any other State apart from Assam and if not then why are there detention camps only in Assam? The question was also pertaining to number of detention camps in Assam and the nationalities of such foreigners living in these detention camps.

Detention camps in other states

The answer to the question relating to detention camps in other states was as follows:

“Detention Centres are set up by State Governments/UT Administrations as per their requirement to detain illegal migrants/foreigners who have completed their sentence pending their deportation to their native country. At present, detention centres have been setup only in the state of Assam.”

The Ministry has been roundabout or evasive on the widely reported construction of detention camps which has been sanctioned in the state of Karnataka, as also Maharashtra was in the process of acquiring land for detention camp in the outskirts of Mumbai. Moreover, the Bengal administration has also confirmed the commencement of the process of building detention camps, albeit they claim the same are for convicted foreign nationals belonging for sub-Saharan African region. Clearly, this accounts for the reply of the government in Parliament: since these detention camps have not yet been completed (but only begun!) the government has chosen to say that they are not among the “existing” detention camps;  However the reply also says that they are in the making. “ Detention Centres are being set up by the State Govts/UT Administrations as per their requirement to detain illegal migrants/foreigners who have completed their sentence pending their deportation to their native country.”  So in the same reply, the government says both things: that Detention Centres exist only in Assam but they are also being set up elsewhere!

Number of foreigners and their nationalities

The Home Ministry, in its reply has  also provided empirical data pertaining to the number of “foreigners” in each of the six detention camps in Assam. The data was provided in a tabular format as follows:

detention camp

The people lodged in detention camps are ones who have been declared foreigners by Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. There are many, however, who have ended up in detention camps despite of having proper documents to prove their citizenship and are in the process of filing appeals in the High Court and many have already filed such appeals. On what basis has the government recognisedthenationalities of these detaineesis extremely questionable and if in the future, some of these “foreigners” are able to prove their citizenship in higher courts, where will these definite claims of the government stand then?



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