Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 26 September 2023

PM, where did my father die? asks Paul’s son

Assam has 6 detention centres which can house 1,145 inmates in which 28 inmates have died so far

Pranjal Baruah Guwahati Published 24.12.19, 06:52 PM
Belurani Paul, wife of Dulal Chandra Paul, with his photo.

Belurani Paul, wife of Dulal Chandra Paul, with his photo. Picture by Pranjal Baruah

The family members of Dulal Chandra Paul, a declared foreigner who died in detention in October, are furious over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that India has no detention centre.

“If there is no detention centre in India then will the Prime Minister like to inform us where my father was kept for two years before he died? Where was he detained?” asked Paul’s 29-year-old son, Ashish.


Paul, 64, a resident of Alisinga in Sonitpur district, was lodged in a detention centre at Tezpur, the district headquarters, for two years since 2017 after a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) declared him a “foreigner”.

He was suffering from serious ailments and died at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on October 13 while in detention.

“The Modi government now wants to give citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants whereas my father, an Indian, had to die as a foreigner. The government which can’t give justice to its own people is now trying to welcome outsiders and make then Indian. It’s such a paradox,” Ashish said.

“Despite having docume-nts pertaining to the year 1956, my father was declared a foreigner and sent behind bars. While all his family members lived as Indians, he had to spend the last days of his life with a foreigner tag. The authorities have assured us that they will institute a probe and mete out justice within three months. Even his death certificate has not been issued to us yet.”

Paul’s family had refused to take his body for almost 10 days, demanding that the authorities remove the “Bangladeshi” tag from his name and declare him an Indian. They agreed to take his body after the state government assured them of a thorough probe into the case.

Advocate Masood Zaman, who deals with FT cases, said, “Advocates like me have been dealing with cases of FT detainees for so long. When detention centres are monitored by the district administrations, how come the Prime Minister denies their existence? It’s a white lie.”

Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said, “Falsehood on Modi’s lips is nothing new. The concept of setting up detention camps was first mooted in 1998 during the Vajpayee regime. The Union home ministry, in a notice, dated July 2, 1998, to all states and Union Territories, suggested setting up of such camps to restrict the movement of foreign nationals awaiting deportation.”

Saikia said three similar directives were issued in 2014, 2018 and 2019 under the Modi government.

“The last directive was issued in January 2019, whereby all states and UTs were asked to set up at least one detention camp under their jurisdiction. This was confirmed in the Lok Sabha on July 2 by the Union minister of state for home affairs, Nityananda Rai,” he said.

Consequently, Goa set up one detention camp at Mapura. Similar centres are reportedly coming up in Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The Assam government is also planning to set up another 10 detention centres, including a large one at Goalpara which can accommodate 3,000 inmates. Yet, Modi has the audacity and shamelessness to say in public that no detention camp exists in India,” he added.

At present, Assam has six detention centres which can house 1,145 inmates. According to official reports, 28 inmates have died so far in these centres.

Of them, only three had said that their permanent address was in Bangladesh.

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