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PM Modi’s claim that India has no detention centres misleading

Published : 23 Dec 2019 09:15 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 04:18 PM

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, reports The Hindu.

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.

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.

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 and 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."