New Delhi: At a time when the Supreme Court is hearing a petition on the extended incarceration of ‘declared foreigners’ in Assam’s six detention centres in the light of the uncertainty over their deportation, mainly to Bangladesh, Karnataka is in the process of setting up a detention centre for the containment of those taken into custody for being undocumented foreigners in the state.
When operational, the southern state would be the second after Assam to have such an exclusive arrangement to hold those declared foreigners by courts awaiting deportation.
Minister of state for home affairs, Nityanand Rai, confirmed it on July 2 in a written response to a pointed query by BJP Lok Sabha MP from the Bangalore Central constituency, P.C. Mohan, on whether the state of Karnataka was establishing any detention centre to hold ‘illegal immigrants’. He said that the state government “has informed (the Centre) that they are in the process of establishing a detention/holding centre”.
“The required police personnel and other infrastructure facilities have been allocated for this purpose and the necessary work is in progress,” Rai added.
This past February, the ministry of home affairs told the Supreme Court that it has allocated a sum of Rs 47 crore to Assam to set up a full-fledged detention centre which would be functional by this August 31 apart from taking a decision to also set up nine more such centres in the north-eastern state. Rai’s July 2 reply to the unstarred question, however, didn’t spell out what “other infrastructure facilities” had been allocated to Karnataka to set up such a centre.
The minister neither responded to Mohan’s query about the time by which the deportation centre would be ready in Karnataka nor did he state its exact location. However, news reports in September 2018 had said that the centre would be set up in Nelamanagal area of Bengaluru and was tentatively slated to be operational in 2019.
ADGP (Law and Order) Kamal Pant told the New Indian Express last year that “it would be like a transit point before deporting the detainees to their respective countries.”
Interestingly, while Mohan’s query was about the availability of any data on ‘illegal immigrants’ residing in the country and Karnataka, the union minister responded with data regarding only “illegal Bangladeshi nationals”.
While admitting that the government has no accurate data on the number of ‘illegal immigrants’ residing in the country as they enter “in a clandestine and surreptitious manner”, the minister quoted information received by MHA from the Karnataka government to say that, “143 cases have been registered against illegal Bangladeshi nationals” in the state and “144 illegal Bangladeshi nationals have been deported” from the state.
Reddy also said that instructions have been issued to all state governments and union territory administrations ‘from time to time in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2018” to set up detention centres as per requirement “to restrict the movements of illegally staying foreign nationals so that they are physically available at all times for expeditious repatriation/deportation.”
This past January 9, the MHA had also circulated “consolidated instructions on the subject” along with a “model detention centre/holding centre manual”(vide MHA letter no.25022/32/2014-F-1 (Vol.1.II) to all the state and UT administrations.