Wednesday, May 29, 2024

31 “declared foreigners” died in detention centres from 2016 to 2021: Data

Tezpur detention camp. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

A total of 31 persons who were declared foreigners have died in Assam’s six detention centres between 2016 and 2022, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in the state assembly.

14 of them were Muslims and two each belonged to the Adivasi and Koch-Rajbongshi communities. These 31 persons have died due to illness, CM said, replying to a question by Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha.

According to the latest data shared by CM in the assembly, 185 declared foreigners are still in detention centres while 1,047 are out on bail and they are taking legal recourse to prove their citizenship in foreigners tribunals (FTs).

There are six detention centres across Assam, CM said.

14 persons died in Goalpara detention camp while 9 died in Tezpur, 4 in Silchar, 3 in Kokrajhar and 1 in Jorhat.

Interestingly, only three of the 30 deceased declared foreigners had addresses in Bangladesh. One among them, Dulal Miya was recorded as a resident of Marak village in ‘Samarganj’ district of Bangladesh. But, there is no district by that name in the neighbouring country.

There are three women in the list. They are Rabeda Begum, a 60-year-old woman from Krishnanagar in central Assam’s Hojai district, Kabutor Basfore of Borbongia in Sonitpur district and Prabha Roy of Kalash Bhanga in Barpeta district.

Many international rights groups while projecting a grim picture of “appalling living conditions” inside the centres, have been calling for the immediate release of inmates declared foreigners.

In 2019, nearly 1.9 million people were left off a National Register of Citizens (NRC), effectively rendering them stateless. They face either deportation or detention in camps.

Muslims, Opposition parties and several rights organisations have called NRC a tool used by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “to target and disenfranchise the Muslim population.”

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