On August 31, 19 lakh people were evicted from Assam’s last National Register of Citizens (NRC), construction work has started on the state’s first detention center, which will be exclusively the homes of people whose names Did not come on the list. The center will be built at a cost of Rs 45 crore in Goalpara, with a capacity to hold 3,000 detainees.
Currently, there are six detention centers in the state which are out of district jails.
Golpara Bhavan is one of 11 such detention centers planned in Assam – the others will be located in Barpeta, Dima, Hassao, Kamarup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Nalbari, Sivasagar and Sonitpur.
According to sources, each center will have a capacity of at least 1,000 people. The total cost of construction of these centers is estimated to be around Rs 1,000 crore.
Assam currently has 31 jails with around 9,000 prisoners. The government is likely to set up additional camps for detainees in these jails.
Those excluded from the final list of NRC can appeal against it in the Foreigners’ Tribunal – a quasi-judicial court. The state government has started setting up 200 additional foreigners’ tribunals to deal with NRC appeals and references; Another 200 will be established in the coming three months.
The BJP-led Assam government has already declared that those who remain out of the NRC list will neither be termed as ‘foreigners nor arrested’ as long as the matter is in court, but they are proved citizenship. To do this, one has to contact the Foreigners’ Tribunal. Each person will have a maximum of 120 days to challenge their case in a tribunal of foreigners.
Even after the Supreme Court ordered the conditional release of detainees who have completed three years of detention, many people have been declared as foreigners.
In May, the Supreme Court ordered that illegal foreigners in Assam who have completed their three-year sentence can be released on the condition of execution of a bond of Rs 1 lakh along with two Indian sureties and an addressable address. The court had also ordered that the biometric details and photos of all detainees be stored and stored in a secure database and that the released person would have to report to the police station every week.
While the tribunals have so far declared more than one lakh foreigners, only four of them have been repatriated since 2013. According to the state government, more than 900 persons are in custody, most of them absconding.