Seven people declared foreigners by tribunals in Assam have died in detention centres this year, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told the Assembly on Monday. Till date, 25 people declared foreigners have died in these centres, reported Deccan Herald.

Patowary said the detainees died in hospitals. Though he claimed that the they died of various illnesses, some of their family members alleged that they died because of lack of basic facilities and harassment in the jails.

When some Opposition MLAs asked why the bodies were not sent to Bangladesh since they were declared foreigners, Patowary said: “In case of such death, the nationality of the deceased is not taken into consideration.”

The minister told the Assembly there were 1,1145 people in six detention centres in district jails in Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Silchar, Kokrajhar and Goalpara. He said the foreigners’ tribunals had identified 1,17,164 people till March 31, reported PTI. Around 29,855 foreigners were expelled between 1985 and June 30, 2019, he added.

In 1985, the anti-foreigners’ agitation led by the All Assam Students’ Union came to an end with the signing of the Assam Accord. Under the accord, it was agreed that the names of those who had entered the state between 1966 and 1971 would be deleted from the electoral rolls and their voting rights would be taken away for 10 years. It was decided that those who had entered the state since March 25, 1971, on the eve of the Bangladesh War, would be declared foreigners and deported.

The National Register of Citizens, which will contain the name of genuine citizens in the state, takes its definition of undocumented immigrants from the Assam Accord. Anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered the country before the midnight of March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner and will face deportation. Patowary said the Centre had released Rs 1,288.13 crore for updating the database. Of this, Rs 1,243.53 crore has been spent so far.

The minister, however, refused to share any information on the update of the register. He said the Supreme Court had ordered in September not to share any information with any authority, including the executive, legislative and the judiciary. On August 31, Assam will release the final National Register of Citizens.