GUWAHATI: Finally, illegal immigrants, who were declared foreigners by the Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam and have spent at least three years in the detention camps, will soon walk to freedom.
Currently, the state has 1,145 such people who are lodged in the various detention camps but only 335 of them have spent more than three years in detention.
The state government has notified modalities for the release of the eligible detainees but on conditions. The conditions are payment of two sureties of Rs.1 lakh each, submission of a verifiable address, collection of bio-metrics which include all ten fingerprints besides iris. Another condition is that the persons must report to the police station every week.
The first condition could act as a deterrent in their release given that most of the detainees are from poor families and they may not be able to pay such a hefty amount. The families had seen a ray of hope vis-à-vis the detainees’ release when the Supreme Court had not objected to a proposal of the Assam government.
In May this year, the state government had proposed to the Supreme Court for the detainees’ conditional release. After the apex court did not object to the proposal, the state government moved the Central government seeking amendment to the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964. The Central government, however, informed the Assam government last week that there was no need to amend the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, thereby clearing the decks for the release of the detainees.
The detention camps are isolated cells in the district jails and the people declared foreigners are treated on a par with the criminals.
People, who will be left out of final National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be published on August 31 this year, will have to approach the Tribunals to challenge the omission of their names. Given the perception that lakhs of people will miss the NRC bus, the state government had recently sought approval from the Centre for the setting up of 1,000 such Tribunals but the latter gave permission for 400 of them. Currently, Assam has 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals.
According to official sources, 25 declared foreigners died of various diseases during detention till date.