58-year-old man dies in Assam detention camp for illegal immigrants
The family of a 58-year-old man who died in a detention centre for illegal immigrants in Assam’s Tezpur accepted his body hours after police took it to his village in Nagaon on Sunday as they protested his wrongful confinement.
Sonitpur’s superintendent of police Kumar Sanjay Krishna said Basudev Biswas was lodged in a detention centre in Central Jail in Tezpur after he was declared a Bangladeshi by a foreigners tribunal in 2015.
“He was asthmatic and had grown weak. In the past, we had taken him to Guwahati for treatment. Yesterday (Saturday) evening, he again fell ill and died while he was being taken to the Tezpur Medical College and Hospital,” Krishna said.
The body of Basudev Biswas was sent to his village in Ambagan in Nagaon district by the police on Sunday. His family initially refused to receive his body, claiming he was an Indian. The standoff could only be resolved around midnight on Sunday.
A havildar of Assam police, who travelled with Biswas’ body, said his family and villagers had launched a protest.
“They are saying we should take the dead body to Bangladesh and not bring it here if he was a Bangladeshi,” the police official said.
Sushil Biswas, a childhood friend of the dead man, said Basudev Biswas was an Indian citizen and went to school in Nagaon.
“His father came as a refugee from Bangladesh in the aftermath of partition. The family has all documents, yet he was declared a Bangladeshi. We both went to the same Bengali school in Ambagan,” he claimed.
“The police did not even inform the family that his health is deteriorating. If he is a Bangladeshi they should have taken the dead body to Bangladesh,” Sushil Biswas said.
Basudev Biswas, according to Assam government documents, was declared a foreigner ex parte — without being heard.
Biswas, who had been in detention since 2015, would have been among the around 190 people eligible to be released after the Supreme Court on Friday ordered a conditional release of those who have served three years or more in detention. The top court is hearing a petition on the condition of the detention centres in Assam.
Assam has 100 foreigners tribunals where those marked as suspected illegal immigrants either by the Border Organisation of Assam police or the local election officials have to prove they are Indian citizens.
The number of foreigners tribunals is proposed to be increased to 1,100, which includes 200 new tribunals in the first phase.
More than 1,00,000 people have been declared foreigners by the tribunals in Assam, and more than 800 of them are in detention in six detention centres which run out of overcrowded jails.
Assam police have reactivated the task forces recently to nab the absconders and ordered fresh FIRs against them.
Only four declared foreigners have been deported to Bangladesh till now.