PM Modi’s Claim That India Has No Detention Centres is Misleading
On Sunday, 22 December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started BJP’s campaign ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections with a speech at Ramlila Maidan.
Coming at a time when protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are taking place across the country, the speech made several references to the contentious Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Here are some fact-checks on the statements made by the prime minister in his speech.
‘There Are No Detention Centres in India’
In his speech, PM Modi said, “Koi desh ke musalmano ko na detention centre main bheja ja raha hai, na Hindustan main koi detention centre hai (No Indian Muslims are being sent to detention centres and neither are there any detention centres in this country).”
However, detention centres do exist in India. In a September 2019 report, The Quint‘s Tridip Mandal and Anjana Dutta reported on how the government is in the process of constructing India’s largest detention centre, 22 km from Guwahati in Assam.
However, busting his bubble of leading a party that cares for all, here is a list of proposed detentions centres in the nation.
- Guwahati, Assam
India’s first detention camp is being set up about 150 kilometres west of Guwahati in Goalpara district’s Matia in Assam. The camp is said to be the size of seven football field and will be capable of holding almost 3000 detainees declared as foreigners by the government.
The detention centre in Matia is being built as per the Centre’s guidelines issued earlier this year in January. The centre is almost ready and is getting its final touches, the construction will cost the government a total of Rs 45 crores.
- Nerul, Navi Mumbai
In September 2019, the central government had written to the Navi Mumbai planning authority to about the proposed detention centre. The Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government had earlier identified a three-acre plot in Nerul to build the state’s first detention centre. According to a report by Scroll, Amitabh Gupta, principal secretary, home department, said that the process to find land for detention camps had started in July after the centre had issued a notice to all states.
- Sondekoppa village, Bengaluru
Almost 30 kilometres from Bengaluru, in a village called Sondekoppa, the Karnataka government is readying the state’s first detention centre. The facility is constructed in the shape of the alphabet ‘L’ and has seven rooms with a kitchen and bathrooms. The facility has almost 15 beds, reported The Indian Express.
The construction work was fast-forwarded recently after a case against 15 illegal immigrants had turned up ina Karnataka court after which the judge asked the state government to speed up the work. The centre is expected to be house people from January 1 2020.
- Kolkata and Bongaon, West Bengal
The West Bengal Correctional Services Minister Ujjal Biswas informed PTI in November 2019 about the state government’s finalised land in Kolkata’s New Town area for the proposed detention centre, reported the Quint.
The West Bengal state government was then also looking for another location for a second camp in the state, the second camp is likely to be built in the city of Bongaon in North 24 Parganas district.
With inputs from Agencies.
Located in Matia in Goalpara district of Assam, the centre reportedly can house 3,000 detainees. Furthermore, the report also said that Assam, as of now, has six detention centres in all.
In Assam, detention camps are also run out of the district jails in Dibrugarh, Silchar, Tezpur, Jorhat, Kokrajhar and Goalpara. On 26 June 2018, The Quint‘s Tridip Mandal and Anjana Dutta had reported on the lives of people housed inside the detention camps.
The report also quoted family members of those who had died while in the detention centres. Watch the full video here:
In November 2019, according to the government, as many as 28 had died either in such detention centres or in hospitals, where they were referred. Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Nityanand Rai said, “As informed by the government of Assam, as on 22 November 2019, 988 foreigners were lodged in six detention centres in Assam.”
A similar answer was given by Union Minister of State (MoS) G Kishan Reddy in Lok Sabha on 2 July 2019. He had apprised the House that six dentention centres have been designated in Assam “to hold declared foreigners”. He had also mentioned that 335 people have been kept in these detention centres for more than three years.
In September 2019, the Maharashtra home ministry had reportedly written to the Navi Mumbai planning authority, asking for a three-acre plot in Nerul to build the state’s first detention centre.
West Bengal Correctional Services Minister Ujjal Biswas told PTI in November 2019, that state government has already finalised a piece of land in New Town area to set up two detention centres, to house foreign nationals arrested on various criminal charges.
In Karnataka in July 2019, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai – in a written response to a query by Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan – said that the Karnataka government has informed the Centre that they are in the process of establishing a detention centre soon.
‘Nationwide NRC’ Features in Several of Amit Shah’s Statements & BJP’s Manifesto
PM Modi also said, “I want to tell the 130 crore citizens of India that since my government has come to power in 2014, there has been no discussion on NRC anywhere. Only after the SC order, this exercise was done for Assam. Lies are being spread.”
However, as latest as December 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah had said, “NRC will be implemented across the country and all infiltrators identified and expelled before 2024 polls.”
He made this statement while addressing a rally in Jharkhand. In November 2019, a tweet from BJP’s official handle also showed Home Minister Amit Shah ensuring “implementation of NRC in the entire country.”
On 19 December 2019, the tweet was deleted by BJP as nationwide protests against CAA-NRC picked up.
Implementation of NRC nationwide in a phased manner is also mentioned in BJP’s manifesto. BJP’s 2019 manifesto says, “We will expeditiously complete the National Register of Citizens process in these areas on priority. In future, we will implement the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country.”
‘Manmohan Singh Said Give Citizenship to Persecuted Minorities from Bangladesh’
PM Modi also quoted Manmohan Singh’s remarks reportedly in support of giving citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh. He said, “Dr Manmohan Singh said in Parliament that we should give citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh. If what Manmohan Singh has said, I do, then I am held responsible?”
However, former PM Singh spoke about giving any persecuted minority from other countries a chance to claim citizenship in India, not one specific religion or specific countries. You can read the fact-check on this here.