Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the government was “preparing in advance” for the nationwide rollout of the National Register of Citizens by constructing detention centres all over the country.

“The process [of detention] will be managed by the Foreigners Tribunals,” he said in an interview to News18. “The government has its own preparations to make. There is a legal process where FTs are concerned. That process has just started.”

Shah reiterated that the government will “throw out infiltrators” before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party president has repeatedly claimed that the NRC exercise would be implemented across the country. BJP leaders from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Haryana have also called for the exercise to be implemented in all the states.

The final NRC list in Assam was published on August 31. The list, which is an exercise to establish bonafide citizens, excluded more than 19 lakh people, who will now face the quasi-judicial foreigners’ tribunals. In the absence of deportation, people declared foreigners by the tribunals would be sent to detention centres.

Shah’s comments came amid reports of one detention centre being been built near Bengaluru in Karnataka, while land for another has been identified in Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra. Authorities managing the detention centre near Bengaluru claimed that it was not a jail, but a “movement restriction centre”.

Earlier in the month, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said that the process of collecting information on immigrants in the state had begun. In September, the Maharashtra government identified a three-acre plot to build a detention centre. However, state authorities have said that it will be used to detain offenders of illegal passport cases.

Although the BJP has repeatedly claimed that the illegal immigrants will be deported to Bangladesh, there is, at present, no repatriation treaty between New Delhi and Dhaka. Asked what will happen to those identified as illegal immigrants, Shah said: “A legal process will be followed. A United Nations Convention is set up, rules are there and those laws will be followed”.

NRC will not be implemented in West Bengal, says TMC

Shah also claimed that the NRC will be “an election matter” in West Bengal. Assembly polls in the state are due in 2021.

The home minister added that the success of the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal must be attributed to the campaign around NRC. “There were other matters as well but this was one of them,” he added. The BJP had increased its tally from two seats in 2014 to 18 in 2019.

The Trinamool Congress on Thursday, however, said the NRC will not be implemented in West Bengal, reported News18. “There is no SC decision or accord with the Centre for implementation of NRC in Bengal unlike in Assam,” the party said in a statement. “We don’t know how Amit Shah is saying this for Bengal.”

The Mamata Banerjee-led party added that it will oppose “any effort to pass a law in Parliament on NRC or against any attempt at a constitutional amendment”.

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