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Home / India News / Assam govt panel to review detention centres after row over death of two foreigners

Assam govt panel to review detention centres after row over death of two foreigners

The Assam government’s move follows a controversy over refusal of a family to accept the body of a declared foreigner who died in a detention centre, months after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31 left out 1.9 million people in Assam .

india Updated: Oct 26, 2019 09:21 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31 left out 1.9 million people in Assam.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31 left out 1.9 million people in Assam. (AP file photo)

The Assam government on Friday constituted a special review committee to evaluate the conditions prevailing in the six detention centres in the state. This follows a controversy over refusal of a family to accept the body of a declared foreigner who died in a detention centre on October 13, months after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) left out 1.9 million people in Assam .

Over 1000 persons who have been declared foreigners by tribunals or have failed to prove their citizenship are currently housed in the six detention centres located inside jails across Assam.

The review committee will be headed by the deputy inspector general (border police) and will include the inspector general of prisons, a retired district and session judge, a representative nominated by deputy commissioners of each district where the centres are located and any other member co-opted by the chairman.

“The committee will visit all detention centres in the state and review the legal aid status and health status of each detainee and provide recommendation for improvement, if needed,” said a release issued by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s office.

The committee is also tasked to evaluate the quantity of food given to the detainees, living condition in the centres and facilities provided for education of the children of the detainees. The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months.

Friday’s move came after the family of Dulal Paul, a 65-year-old who died on October 13 after spending two years at a detention centre, refused to accept his body till he was declared an Indian citizen.

Paul, was declared a foreigner by a tribunal in 2017 after his land documents of 1965 were not accepted, and sent to a detention centre in Sonitpur. His family claims he was mentally unstable. He died at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital due to multiple ailments.

After his death, the family refused to accept the body for several days asking the authorities to send it to Bangladesh since he is a ‘foreigner’. It was only after CM Sonowal’s intervention that they accepted the body and performed last rites this Tuesday.

In his meeting with Paul family, the CM had assured all legal help to the other family members including the deceased’s three sons whose names are missing from the NRC released in August this year.

Sonowal had also assured that the state government would constitute a review committee to look into the conditions in the detention centres.

On Thursday, another declared foreigner Falu Das, 72, who was in a detention camp in Goalpara since 2017 died to deteriorating health at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital. Like Paul, Das’s family in Mukalmua of Nalbari district has refused to accept his body till all members of the deceased’s family are included in the NRC.

Besides the six existing detention centres, a large one which can house around 3,000 inmates is being constructed in Goalpara, nearly 150 km from the state capital, at a cost of Rs 46 crore. The new centre would house those among the 1.9 million people whose names didn’t figure in the NRC who are declared foreigners by tribunals after evaluating their case