BENGALURU: Come 2019, illegal immigrants and foreign nationals overstaying in the state will be lodged in a detention centre which is being set up at Nelamangala. This facility will be used to house foreign nationals who overstay on their visa as well as other illegal immigrants set to be deported back to their home countries.
The centre will come up based on a letter sent by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The letter, signed by P C Guite, Under Secretary, Union MHA (Foreigners’ Dept) from the Centre, referred to repeated reports about illegal activities by foreign nationals and directed the state to take up measures to set up a detention centre in Bengaluru at the earliest. “Yes, we have received the letter.... Very soon the centre will be up and running,” said Rajneesh Goel, Principal Secretary.
The letter reads: “It has been contended that a large number of illegal immigrants from Africa and Bangladesh are residing in Bengaluru. They have been allegedly found indulging in various illegal activities such as drug peddling, prostitution, online frauds, house thefts and robberies.”
The state government has identified the Social Welfare Department hostel in Nelamangala as the premises to set up the detention centre. Speaking to TNIE, ADGP Law and Order Kamal Pant said, “The revamping of the building will begin soon. We are working out on working out modalities for the same.”
Explaining the operations of the detention centre, he said it will be like a transit point before deporting the detainees to their respective countries. Under the Foreigners Act 1946, the Centre directed the State to restrict the movement of foreign nationals awaiting deportation and restrict them here, explained an officer from the police department.
“This will ensure that physical availability of these immigrants will be available 24/7 with us for expeditious repatriation or deportation as soon as the travel documents are ready. Otherwise, usually when we send these people to prison, they get released on bail and resort to illegal activities, “ explained Pant. While the state has to bear the expenses towards their stay at the detention centres, the Ministry of External Affairs will later reimburse the money, according to sources.
The centre will have officers deployed to guard them all the time. It will have separate staff to manage the immigrants, an office, and also rooms for the immigrants, said Kamal Pant.The centre is expected to be ready for operations by the beginning of next year.
Meanwhile, there might be few more places identified in other districts to set up similar detention centres, said an official from the state Home Ministry. It must be noted that this kind of a centre was planned by the state government as early as two years ago after the High Court pulled up the police department for not starting a detention centre. It had then issued certain guidelines to “establish a detention Centre without delay so as to enable the foreign nationals to be detained till they are deported to their respective countries after expiry of their visas.” A place in East Division was also being finalised for this purpose.
In July, Bengaluru Central parliamentarian P C Mohan had appealed to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to set up a detention centre. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had also favoured the proposal and directed the ministry’s division concerned to expedite the process.
‘not a solution’
Bosco Kaweesi, President of Pan African Federation said: “A detention centre is never going to be a solution to this problem. Instead create ‘innocent passages’ where the country will pardon our overstay and let us go with their help. Several countries follow this, where they let us go by paying for our tickets and visa charges. Instead of making the process easier, the Indian government has made it worse by asking landlords not to rent out to any of us with expired visas, but, they don’t realise, to go out of the country we need an address. So what do we do then?”