Cen­tre fund­ing coun­try’s big­gest for­eigner de­ten­tion cen­tre in As­sam

30,000 Sq Ft Fa­cil­ity Not Linked To NRC, Will Be Op­er­a­tional Next Year

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Pra­[email protected] times­group.com

Guwa­hati: The coun­try’s big­gest de­ten­tion cen­tre to house for­eign con­victs and peo­ple de­clared “for­eign­ers” by tri­bunals, com­ing up in As­sam’s Goal­para district, will be op­er­a­tional early next year.

Sanc­tioned by the Union home min­istry in June last year, As­sam’s first de­ten­tion cen­tre is be­ing con­structed on 20 bighas (28,800 sq ft) of land at Ma­tia, about 124km west of Guwa­hati, at an es­ti­mated cost of Rs 46.5 crore. The en­tire ex­pense on the fa­cil­ity, with a ca­pac­ity to house 3,000 de­tainees, is be­ing borne by the Cen­tre. In­ci­den­tally, Goa opened a de­ten­tion cen­tre for for­eign­ers in May this year.

In 2014, the Cen­tre had asked all states to set up at least one ‘de­ten­tion cen­tre/hold­ing cen­tre/camps’ to de­tain “il­le­gal im­mi­grants and for­eign na­tion­als await­ing de­por­ta­tion/or repa­tri­a­tion af­ter com­ple­tion of sen­tence due to non-con­fir­ma­tion of na­tion­al­ity”. The ob­jec­tive was to sep­a­rate de­clared for­eign­ers from crim­i­nals in jails.

Re­cently, the Supreme Court set the de­ten­tion pe­riod of for­eign­ers at 3 years. Af­ter com­ple­tion of this pe­riod, those in de­ten­tion would be eligible for bail af­ter fur­nish­ing a surety bond of Rs 1 lakh each from two In­dian cit­i­zens along with their pro­posed res­i­den­tial ad­dress and bio­met­ric de­tails.

As­sam home com­mis­sioner and sec­re­tary, Ashutosh Ag­ni­hotri, said the Goal­para de­ten­tion cen­tre can­not be linked to the out­come of the final NRC. “The camp will be­come op­er­a­tional early next year. But don’t link it with NRC. In case of (dropouts), it has been al­ready clar­i­fied (dropouts are not for­eign­ers and can ap­peal in for­eign­ers’ tri­bunals). We do not know what pol­icy comes af­ter that,” he added.

He fur­ther said, “The Ma­tia camp is only for those de­tainees who have been de­clared for­eign­ers and are in the ex­ist­ing six de­ten­tion camps (which are at­tached to state’s six cen­tral jails), besides for­eign con­victs. Once it’s ready, we’ll shift these peo­ple here.”

There are 1,136 de­tainees in the six tem­po­rary de­ten­tion camps lo­cated in the jails in Kokra­jhar, Goal­para, Jorhat, Tezpur, Di­bru­garh and Silchar. Last month, nine de­tainees, who com­pleted three years in de­ten­tion, were re­leased on bail as per SC guide­lines. Fur­ther, 25 oth­ers have died in de­ten­tion due to health is­sues.

The Cen­tre has also for­mu­lated a man­ual un­der which the de­ten­tion cen­tre will have a help desk for the de­tainees to con­tact mis­sion, em­bassy or con­sulate of­fi­cials or their fam­i­lies, a skills de­vel­op­ment cen­tre and a creche for children, but all within the premises with high-level se­cu­rity.

UB Pho­tos

Con­struc­tion for the Rs 47 crore project is on in full swing at Ma­tia in Goal­para district

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