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Assam to Build its 1st, Exclusive Detention Centre in Goalpara for Those Who Don’t Qualify as Indian Citizens

Assam currently has six detention centres that are run out of district jails. The one in Goalpara will be built at a cost of Rs 45 crore, with a capacity to hold 3,000 detainees.

Tulika Devi | News18

Updated:September 4, 2019, 5:49 PM IST
Assam to Build its 1st, Exclusive Detention Centre in Goalpara for Those Who Don’t Qualify as Indian Citizens
A new detention center being set up in Goalpara, Assam. (Image: News18)

Guwahati: After 19 lakh people were left out of Assam’s final National Register of Citizens (NRC) on August 31, construction work has started on the state's first detention centre for those who do not quality as Indian citizens. The centre will be built at a cost of Rs 45 crore in Goalpara, with a capacity to hold 3,000 detainees.

Currently, the state has six detention centres that are run out of district jails.

The Goalpara building is one of 11 such detention centres being planned in Assam -- the others will be located in Barpeta, Dima, Hasao, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Nalbari, Sivasagar and Sonitpur.

According to sources, each centre will have a capacity of at least 1,000 people. The total expenditure for the construction of these centres is estimated to be around Rs 1,000 crore.

Assam currently has 31 jails with approximately 9,000 inmates. The government is likely to set up extra camps for detainees in these jails.

Those excluded from the final NRC list can appeal against it at the Foreigners' Tribunal — a quasi-judicial court. The state government has initiated establishment of 200 additional foreigners’ tribunals to deal with NRC appeals and references; another 200 will be set up in the coming three months.

The BJP-led Assam government has already declared that those left out of the NRC list would neither be labelled as ‘foreigners’ nor ‘arrested’ till the matter is in court, but will have to approach the Foreigners’ Tribunal to prove their citizenship. Each person will have a maximum of 120 days to challenge his or her case at a Foreigners’ Tribunal.

Many people declared foreigners remain in the six detention centres in the state even after the Supreme Court ordered conditional release of detainees who have completed three years in detention.

The Supreme Court in May had ordered that illegal foreigners in Assam who have completed three years in detention may be released on the condition of execution of a bond of Rs 1 lakh with two Indian sureties and a verifiable address. The court had also ordered that biometric details and photos of all detainees will be captured and stored in a secured database and the released person must report to the police station every week.

While the tribunals so far have declared more than one lakh people as foreigners, only four of them have been repatriated since 2013. According to the state government, more than 900 persons remain in detention, with most of them absconding.

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| Edited by: Karan Anand
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