A delegation of the All India Congress Committee visited a detention centre at Silchar in Cachar district of south Assam on Thursday and found it “a very depressing experience”.
“Visited detention centre in Silchar….48 genuine Indian citizens not having ‘proper’ papers. 17 from Bangladesh who... want to go back but are not being accepted and 6 from Myanmar who don’t want to go back. A very depressing and sobering experience….’ tweeted Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh.
The other delegates comprised state Congress president and Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora, Lok Sabha MP Manik Tagore, former Union ministers Mukul Wasnik and Jitendra Singh, MLAs Kamalakshya Dey Purkayastha and Rajdeep Goala, former state ministers Ajit Singh and Siddique Ahmed and lawyers.
Ramesh said there are 48 declared foreigners, all of whom believe they are Indians, living with criminals inside Silchar Central Jail. There is no separate camp for declared foreigners in Silchar. Besides, there are 17 Bangladeshi citizens, who want to go back, and six citizens of Myanmar in the camp.
Expressing anguish over the condition of the inmates, Ramesh told reporters here after the visit that they met a woman from Karimganj who has been in the camp with her daughter from more than a decade. Her daughter’s education stopped because of the detention.
“This is unfortunate”, he said, adding that the two should be released on humanitarian grounds.
An inmate can be released when he or she crosses three years inside the camp on the submission of a surety bond of Rs 2 lakh.
Ramesh said they are seeking people’s opinion in the Northeast on the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Bill. He alleged that the BJP government was trying to divide the people on religious lines while the Congress was trying to unite them.
The special review committee constituted by the state government to review the conditions in detention centres has started work in Tezpur detention centre and is expected to submit its report within three months.
It will meet every detainee, check their health conditions, examine the overall condition of the centres and the facilities extended to children of detainees. The team will be accompanied by doctors and officials from the district administration.
All India Mahila Congress president and former Silchar MP Sushmita Dev, who accompanied the Congress team, said there should not be any difference of opinion on the bill in the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys and reiterated the party’s demand to modify it.
She said the Congress would provide legal support to doubtful-voters and NRC-excluded who are poor and not allow further harassment to the people in the name of NRC re-verification.