The West Bengal government is set to build two detention centres to house foreign nationals arrested on criminal charges, but these camps have “absolutely no connection” with the National Register of Citizens, a state minister told PTI on Saturday. These camps are likely to house around 200 inmates.
The Trinamool Congress government has already finalised land for one of the centres in Kolkata’s New Town area, said state Correctional Services Minister Ujjwal Biswas. The government is, at present, looking for land for the second camp that will be built in the city of Bongaon in North 24 Parganas district. A government building might be used as a temporary measure, Biswas added.
“These detention camps are being constructed adhering to Supreme Court directives, according to which foreign nationals under trial and those convicted should not be kept with local inmates,” said the minister. “This has absolutely no connection with the NRC. Please don’t link it to NRC.”
At the moment, foreign nationals charged with crimes are kept in correctional homes along with local inmates. “But because of different cultures and languages, a lot of problems can come up inside,” The Telegraph quoted Biswas as saying. “Local inmates often raised objections about them. So in pursuance of the Supreme Court directives, we have planned to set up the detention camps to accommodate the foreigner inmates.”
The minister cited a 2014 directive of the Centre, asking states to set up at least one detention centre for undocumented immigrants and foreign nationals awaiting deportation after they have served their sentence. At present, 110 foreign nationals – most of them from Africa – are facing trial in the state, according to unidentified officials.