One hundred and ninety five persons are currently lodged in the six detention centres in Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the state Assembly on Tuesday, PTI reported.
These centres are used to hold persons identified as foreigners and are awaiting deportation or repatriation, or persons waiting for their citizenship claims to be settled.
Assam currently has six detention centres for those who are found allegedly residing in the state illegally. These are located inside the district jails of Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Tezpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Silchar.
On Tuesday, Sarma, who also holds the the home portfolio, said that 770 persons have been released on bail from the detention centres in accordance with orders by the Supreme Court.
“Out of those released, 778 are marking their presence by visiting local police stations every week while one person is absconding,” he said in a written reply, according to PTI.
In April 2020, the Supreme Court had ordered that persons who have been held at the detention centres in Assam for more than two years may be released on a personal bond and one surety.
A month before that, the Centre had said that there were 3,331 persons in six detention centres across Assam. Many of the detainees claim to be Indian citizens who were locked up because they were held as suspects by Assam’s foreigner detection mechanisms or could not furnish adequate documents to prove citizenship.
In Assam, persons who have entered India before March 25, 1971, have to prove their citizenship.
National Register of Citizens
In August 2019, Assam had published a National Register of Citizens with an aim to distinguish Indian citizens from undocumented immigrants living in the state. More than 19 lakh persons in Assam were left out of the final list of the National Register of Citizens – around 6% of Assam’s entire population.
The state government had called the final draft of the National Register of Citizens “faulty” and alleged that it has excluded several indigenous people of Assam. Foreigners’ Tribunals were tasked with hearing their appeals against exclusion. Those whose claims are rejected face detention.
Most persons deemed to be foreigners and detained in the camps “lacked even elementary legal representation and had not been heard by the tribunals”, human rights activist Harsh Mander wrote in an article for Scroll.in in July 2019.
“They were mostly detained on the basis of ‘ex-parte orders’, or orders passed without hearing the accused person because they allegedly failed to appear before the tribunals despite being served legal notices,” Mander had said.