Assam detention centres for ‘foreigners’ renamed ‘transit camps’

A women who is an inmate of Tezpur detention camo
Tezpur detention camp. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

A notification issued by the Assam government on Tuesday says the nomenclature of the “Detention centre is changed to Transit Camp for detention purpose”.

The renaming is declared in a partial modification of a 12-year-old notification pertained to the setting up of the detention centres.

According to The Hindu, recently Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had told the State Assembly that the detention centres have 181 inmates, 61 of whom are declared foreign nationals and 121 convicted foreign nationals awaiting deportation. Two of these centres house 22 children along with their “foreigner” mothers.

The State currently has six detention centres within central jails at Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Jorhat, Kokrajhar, Silchar and Tezpur.

A large detention centre with a capacity to house 3,000 foreigners is under construction at Agia in Goalpara district which is deemed as Asia’s largest and the world’s second-largest detention camp.

“Changing the name of detention centre to ‘Transit Camp’ won’t change the fact that Indian citizens are being detained after stripping their citizenship. In the last 8 years, the number of ‘declared foreigners’ deported is in single-digit,” slammed Aman Wadud, an outspoken lawyer who handles citizenship cases.

“Shut down the detention centre or whatever you call it. Changing the name won’t absolve the state of the shame and guilt of detaining its own citizens by denationalizing them” Wadud wrote on Twitter.

Many human rights groups have criticised the procedure of the Foreigners Tribunal who has declared Thousands of Bengali communities in Assam ‘foreigners’.

The final National Register of Citizenship list published on 31 August 2019 excluded 19,06,657 persons, with option to approach FT for grievances.