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After Assam, Karnataka gets ready for detention camp

The detention center is situated on a plot of half-acre land that could measure approximately 2000 square yards

Wednesday December 25, 2019 12:39 PM, Pradip Bhattacharya, ummid.com

Karnataka Detention Centre

When the Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) amidst protest from every quarter across India, it looked crystal clear that the BJP-ruled states were planning to lodge the (il)legal immigrants in detention centers. BJP-ruled states celebrated passage of the Bill while opposition parties reacted swiftly, both in words and actions.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Modi denied that any detention center existed in the country. But upcoming reports of the detention centers in Assam and Karnataka would reveal that Modi’s lie has been busted. Even the circular, which was cited in Parliament by his government, contradicts Modi’s claim. While several detention camps already exist in Assam, the Union home ministry through the circular issued in January asked other states also to set up such facilities.

Six Detention Centres in Assam

And the cloud of doubts that existed in people’s mind even after hearing Modi’s speech in Ram Lila Maidan, became clearer as news spread that the state Assam would get its first detention center which would be opened at a cost of more than Rs 46.41 crore is on the verge of completion, with the plans to house 3000 "illegal immigrants". The detention center is built on a stretch of 28,800 sq ft of land at Matia, which s 129 km away from Guwahati, likely to be one of the largest detention centers in Assam's Goalpara district. The construction process was expected to get completed by December this year, but the task of completion is likely to take another few months.

Currently, in the state of Assam, there are six detention camps in places like Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Silchar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Tezpur prisons to house the declared foreigners by the foreigners' tribunals. Once the Matia detention center gets completed, the government is likely to shift the inmates from the above-mentioned prisons to the Goalpara center. A proposal to set up 10 new ones has been sent to Union ministry but the clearance is pending. Currently, the detention camps in Assam are run by the state home department with approval from the Union home ministry.

Even former chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, had identified land for the state’s first detention center for "illegal immigrants". But such an idea came to a halt soon as Shiv Sena-led alliance is ruling the state now, thus giving a jolt to MHA’s process in creating detention center in Maharashtra that was likely to come up in Nerul in Navi Mumbai.

Detention Centres in Karnataka

Outside Assam, a detention center would be opened in Karnataka in January 2020, with plans to send "Bangladeshi refugees" there for asylum.

While PM Modi said recently at Ram Leela Maidan, "No Muslim is being sent to detention centers, nor are there any detention centers in India,’’ it was just an eye-wash. PM Modi might deny any existence of detention centers to house illegal immigrants in India, but following such denials even, one just had opened up in Bengaluru.

The State Home Department in Bengaluru announced that it is building detention centers to interrogate the illegal immigrants in the state. The detention center is being located at Sudikoppa village near Nelamangala, in the outskirts of Bengaluru which will have six rooms, a common kitchen, and a common bathroom, this place can only inmate 25 people. The detention center is situated on a plot of half-acre land that could measure approximately 2000 square yards of the whole area. Each room in the Center can have a five-bed facility for the inmates. It is reported that the final touches to the building are being given to open the center by January 2020 to house illegal immigrants.

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday denied that the structure-based at Nelamangala is not a detention center but would house only illegal immigrants which was earlier a hostel maintained by Social welfare department to house SC/ST and OBC students but was left unused since 2008 and now got converted into a facility to lodge "Nigerian immigrants or nationals" accused of crimes in the city.

While the old hostel building was retained, two watch towers in two corners of the building and a security room had to be built in addition to the existing hostel remaining there. For security purposes, barbed wired are seen hanging at top of the compound walls at four sides of the campus. This building will be maintained and used by the Home department and the Foreign Regional Registration Offices ( FRRO), under the Bureau of immigration, which is in the process of compiling a list of illegal immigrants. The state issued orders on December 9 to make the facility fully operational by 2020, to a 'foreigners’ movement restriction center.

Protests against CAA, NRC

While many states were witnessing a widespread protest against the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens (NCR), the two BJP ruled states Assam and Karnataka will continue to garner national and international attention.

Because while addressing a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that there have been no discussions on an all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) since the BJP-led government assumed power in 2014. He said that the NRC was implemented in Assam alone following the Supreme Court’s orders. The Prime Minister also denied the existence of detention centers in India. Were all his statements accurate?

Let us first refer to a reply to a question put by Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta where the country’s Home Minister Amit Shah in Nov 2019, firmly stated that the NRC exercise would be carried out across India. The gazette notification of September 7, 2015, which was made in the case of Assam, would apply to the rest of India as well. The Prime Minister’s remarks on the “nationwide NRC” therefore contradict what the Home Minister has been saying on the issue.

In another similar debate held in Rajya Sabha on December 11, 2019, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, replying to a question by Md. Nadimul Haque stated that that the Central government had circulated a document titled Model Detention/Holding Centre Manual to all States and Union Territories on January 9, 2019. He also revealed in another answer in the House that, as on November 22, 2019, Assam already had six functioning detention centers with 988 foreigners lodged in them.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has warned that all states across the country are bound to implement the CAA and NRC. But the protests that intensified both inside and outside the Parliament taking the issue to the streets, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh and many more like Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Chattisgarh, plan to hold the implementation of NRC and CAA in their respective states. Time alone would show who loses over NRC and CAA - BJP or the opposition?

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