‘Mentally unstable’ man dies in Assam detention camp

One of Assam’s six detention camps for declared foreigners has claimed the life of a 65-year-old man who was reportedly mentally unstable and detained wrongly. He was the 26th casualty of the State’s system of quarantining non-citizens since 2011.

Dulal Paul, who was from Dhekiajuli in north-central Assam’s Sonitpur district, died at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital on Sunday morning. Doctors said he had been undergoing treatment since September 28 for a chronic illness.

Officials dealing with declared foreigners said Mr Paul was lodged in the Tezpur detention camp on October 11, 2017.

A member of his family said he was wrongly detained despite possessing land documents dating back to the early 1960s. Almost all members of his family were included in the updated National Register of Citizens, which was published on August 31.

“He was mentally unstable. But that did not stop them from taking him to the detention centre,” the family member said.

Neither the State Home Department nor the Assam Police Border Organisation clarified whether the man was mentally unstable at the time of his detention or he became so during his detention.

Established in 1962, the Border Organisation is a wing of the police tasked with detecting and deporting illegal migrants or foreigners. This wing refers cases to Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs), which pronounce judgements on the nationality of those identified as suspected aliens.

Till August, the six detention camps housed in central jails had 1,145 inmates. Following a Supreme Court directive to conditionally release those who have completed three years of detention, the State government set 10 of them free.

In July, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. said that 25 persons declared as “illegal foreigners” by the FTs had died across the six detention camps since 2011.

“They died after being admitted to hospitals due to illnesses,” Mr. Patowary had said, adding that the body of none of them was sent to Bangladesh, the country the FTs said they had come from.

Most of those who died were Bengali speakers – Hindus and Muslims.


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