GUWAHATI: A process is underway in Assam to release declared “foreigners” from the detention centres following a recent order of the Supreme Court that was taken up by the Gauhati High Court.
To decongest the detention centres during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SC had on April 13 directed the release of the declared foreigners who have been in detention for two years or more. Two days later, the Gauhati HC issued an order directing the border branch of Assam Police to ensure the conditional release of such declared foreigners within the next seven days.
Officials, however, refused to share the details on the number of people released so far.
“We shall be submitting the information to Hon’ble Gauhati High Court as per their direction,” Special Director General of Police (Border) Mukesh Aggarwal told this newspaper.
However, a source in the state’s prisons establishment said 83 people had been released till Monday.
“Till yesterday, 83 people were released from the six detention centres. The process will continue. The people, who have been released, fulfilled all conditions,” the source said, adding “There are some detainees who haven’t been able to arrange sureties.”
The border branch of Assam Police is the nodal agency in the process. Among others, it arranges the conveyance of people released to drop them at their residences.
The conditions for the release include execution of bond with two sureties of Rs 5,000 each, declaration of verifiable address of stay after release, capturing and storing of the biometrics of the iris of both eyes and all 10 fingerprints and photos in a secured database, declarations that the detenue shall report once every week to the police located within the vicinity of his/her verifiable address of stay after release, that s/he shall notify any change of his/her address to the police on the same day and in case of violation of any of the conditions, s/he will be liable to be apprehended and produced before the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT).
The various FTs deal with the cases of doubtful citizens. When the Border Police suspect an individual’s nationality, it brings the matter to the notice of the FT. The FT then summons the individual for a hearing during which s/he has to prove his or her Indian citizenship with documentary evidence. If s/he fails to do that, s/he will be declared a “foreigner” and sent to a detention centre.
Sometimes, people are declared foreigners ex-parte if they repeatedly ignore the summons.