GUWAHATI, FEBRUARY 5: The Assam Government referred 12,107 people to foreigners tribunals (FTs) between 2017 and 2019, when the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) was being updated in the state, Union Minister of state for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Rai was replying to a question by Alathur (Kerala) Congress MP Ramya Haridas on the details of people referred to FTs, sent to detention centres by the FTs and those released from the detention centres during the last three years.
Rai, quoting information furnished by the Assam Government, said 9,457 people were referred to FTs in 2017, 2,051 in 2018 and 599 in 2019 (till November).
After being declared foreigners by FTs, 1,381 people were sent to 6 detention centres during the past 3 years. Altogether 661 people were sent to Tezpur detention centre followed by Jorhat (286), Goalpara (209), Kokrajhar (105), Silchar (79) and Dibrugarh (41), Rai added.
Besides these 6 centres, which are run from the district jail premises, the Government is building an exclusive detention centre in lower Assam’s Goalpara district at a cost of around Rs 46.51 crore with a capacity to hold 3,000 inmates. Once completed, the occupants of the 6 detention camps will be shifted to the Goalpara centre. A proposal to set up 10 new ones has been sent to the Union Ministry but the clearance is pending.
Rai said 761 detainees were released during the last 3 years ~ 242 in 2017, 142 in 2018 and 377 in 2019. He said according to the Government of Assam, the detainees were released either for repatriation or under instruction from Gauhati High Court or on completion of 3 years in detention in accordance with the Supreme Court’s instruction of May 10, 2019.
Various political parties like the Congress and the AIUDF and apolitical organisations like the All Assam Minorities Students’ Union in the state had demanded that the Government stop referring people to FTs to establish their citizenship while the NRC was being updated in the state, as it would lead to additional burden for the people.
Detention centres are set up by state Governments or Union Territory administrations to detain illegal immigrants or foreigners till they are their deported to their native country. The Centre now uses the word “holding centre” for detention centres.
Rai also said that the Union Home Ministry had prepared a model detention centre/holding centre/camp manual in consultation with various stakeholders and this was circulated to all the state Governments and Union Territory administrations on January 9 last year for implementation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, however, said in December last year that the country did not have any detention centre. (Courtesy: TT)