Only 6 lodged in K’taka detention centre till now

Even though the government had planned this facility as a transit for illegal immigrants, so far only six people had been lodged, who were later deported, Karnataka Police officials said on Wednesday.
The centre’s first detainee was a Sudanese national, identified as Omer Altayb Hajahmed, who was arrested in 2019 but was shifted to the detention centre in November 2020. (HT Photo)
The centre’s first detainee was a Sudanese national, identified as Omer Altayb Hajahmed, who was arrested in 2019 but was shifted to the detention centre in November 2020. (HT Photo)
Published on Sep 02, 2021 02:01 AM IST
Copy Link
By, Bengaluru

Two years have passed since the Karnataka government opened a detention centre in Nelamangala in the outskirts of Bengaluru for illegal immigrants staying in the city. Though the construction was completed in 2019, the facility remained locked and only became operational in October 2020.

Even though the government had planned this facility as a transit for illegal immigrants, so far only six people had been lodged, who were later deported, Karnataka Police officials said on Wednesday.

The centre’s first detainee was a Sudanese national, identified as Omer Altayb Hajahmed, who was arrested in 2019 but was shifted to the detention centre in November 2020.

The centre, which is operated by the department of social welfare and secured by the police, has a capacity to lodge 30 to 40 illegal immigrants at a time. Even though the Foreigner Regional Registration Office’s (FRRO) records show there are more than 900 foreigners, whose visas have expired but are still staying in the city, with at least 43 with a criminal case against them, the centre has remained mostly empty since its inauguration.

Sharing views on why the facility is being underused, a senior FRRO official on Wednesday pointed out that even though his office is responsible for keeping track of foreigners in the city, the responsibility of identifying and arresting overstaying immigrants is with the local police. “We have provided the details with the police, and they are trying to track them,” said the officer.

The detention centre has six rooms to lodge illegal immigrants, along with a common kitchen and a bathroom, while the compound walls are secured by barbed wires on all four sides. The centre also has two watchtowers constructed on two corners and a security room at the entrance, according to the police.

“This is not a prison, and it was meant to be a transit center for those awaiting deportation. This is the reason the center comes under the jurisdiction of the social welfare department, we are only providing security,” said a senior IPS officer on Wednesday.

The center had come to the limelight after five African women arrested for overstaying escaped from the Government State Home for Women near Nimhans in the early hours on August 19.

The five women were arrested as part of the special drive against foreigners overstaying in the city. While three of them are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two are Nigerians.

Questions were raised during an internal review on why the facility was not used to lodge the detainees.

“There are no female staff at the detention center. So, the decision was taken to not to lodge them,” said a senior Bengaluru police officer explaining, why they were kept at the home for women.

Karnataka Police chief DG and IGP Praveen Sood on Wednesday said that the police are constantly on the lookout for those illegally staying in the state and special drives are being conducted in Bengaluru. “One of the biggest problems we are facing is that many of those illegally staying in the city are in hiding and many of them have left the state. It is difficult to conduct nationwide searches,” Sood said.

Sood added a similar problem is faced with those caught with criminal cases. As many as 70 foreign nationals were arrested in 2020 under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS) in comparison to 44 in 2018 and 38 in 2019, according to Bengaluru police, while the number of arrested persons in 2020 under the NDPS Act increased by 200% last year, as per police records.

“When those who are arrested are produced before the court, it is mandatory that they should stay in the country until the trial is over. Many of them come out on bail and disappear. This is a loophole they have found,” he added.

A senior Prisons Department official said at present there are no plans to take over the detention facility even though prisons in the state are overcrowded. “Firstly, the facility is very small. Secondly, it was built with the purpose of being a detention centre. It might take some time for the center to start working smoothly. But at present there are no plans to take over the facility,” he added.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, January 28, 2022