GUWAHATI: The Assam BJP today criticised the present system of housing illegal immigrants on prison premises, and resolved to urge both the state and central governments to move their detention camps elsewhere.
“Our detention camps are nothing but jails. It’s okay to keep convicted criminals and undertrials behind prison walls, but housing these people there is wrong. We had raised this issue with Rajnath Singh when he was still the Home Minister, and we will raise it again. It’s a wrongful system,”
BJP state unit president Ranjeet Dass told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
At present, all the six detention centres meant to house those declared as outsiders by the state’s foreigners tribunal are located on prison premises. Members of the state BJP said they were not happy about “declared foreigners” being made to share the same space as hardcore criminals.
This assertion by the BJP leader comes close on the heels of a Supreme Court order to release “declared foreigners” languishing in its detention centres for over three years. However, the detainees would have to produce two sureties of Rs. 1 lakh each, besides a verifiable address, in order to be set free. Sources in the Assam government said they will also be required to provide biometric information such as fingerprint and iris scans, besides photographs, and report to a police station in their locality every week.
Mr Dass claimed that it was better to deport illegal immigrants instead of cramming them in prisons along with criminals. “Many Bangladeshi immigrants caught from Karimganj and Tezpur have been deported in the recent past. If they are foreigners, why send them to detention camps? The government should find a way to deport them to Bangladesh quickly,” he said.
While Assam has six detention centres that operate from district jails, it is constructing its first exclusive detention centre with a capacity of 3,000 people in lower Assam’s Goalpara at a cost of Rs. 46 crore.
Responding to a question on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in the state assembly, Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had said on Monday that 25 people have died so far in the six detention camps across Assam.