Deaths prompts Assam foreigner detention camps review

Deaths prompts Assam foreigner detention camps review

A Congress team visiting Dulal Paul's family in Sonitpur district in Assam. (DH photo)

Deaths of two "declared foreigners" this month and their families' denial to accept the bodies prompted the Assam government to order a review of the facilities in foreigner detention camps inside six jails.

A notification issued by the state government on Friday night said a committee would visit the detention centres to take stock of the legal aid status of the detainees and their health condition and suggest measures required to improve the living condition

The committee, to be headed by a deputy inspector general (border) will also carry out a survey of education facilities for the children of those lodged inside the foreigner detention camps. It will submit its report within three months.

The BJP-led government in the state was faced with an embarrassing situation after Dulal Paul and Falu Das, two detainees died recently. Family members of the detainees refused to accept their bodies claiming that they were declared foreigners by foreigner tribunals despite having pre-1971 documents. They demanded that other members of the families be declared Indian citizens before performing last rites as they could also be declared foreigners and detained inside the camps similarly. Names of children of the declared foreigners have been left out of the NRC. 

Paul's family accepted the body after Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal assured that the state government would provide them legal assistance to fight their cases in courts. The state government, however, said it was not competent to declare a person Indian or foreigner. Das's family too refused to accept the body after his death on Thursday. Efforts are on to convince the family.

The state government told the Assembly in July this year that 25 persons died inside detention centres since 2010. More than 1,100 persons are lodged in six detention centres after they were declared foreigners by tribunals. 

The state government, however, has released some of them on conditions, who had already completed three years inside detention camps.