United States immigration officials said they are force-feeding at least six detainees, including Indians, who are on a hunger strike in protest against the conditions at their detention centre in Texas, AP reported. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they were following a federal judge’s orders on the matter.

Last month, two weeks after 11 detainees at the El Paso processing centre began their hunger strike, a judge sanctioned authorities to force-feed six of them. “The ICE Health Services Corps is medically monitoring the detainees’ health and regularly updating ICE of their medical status,” the agency statement said in a statement. “Efforts are being taken to protect the detainees’ health and privacy.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa said 11 detainees were on hunger strike in El Paso and four each in centres in Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco. The US identifies detainees as hunger strikers after they refuse nine consecutive meals. Zamarripa did not address the protestors allegations of abuse at the Texas detention centre.

Ruby Kaur, a lawyer representing one of the Indian detainees being force-fed, said: “They [detainees] go on hunger strike, and they are put into solitary confinement and then the ICE officers kind of psychologically torture them, telling the asylum seekers they will send them back to Punjab.”

Non-profit organisation Freedom for Immigrants said at least 1,396 people have gone on hunger strikes in 18 immigration detention facilities in the country since May 2015, the news agency reported.