The first detention centre in Karnataka currently houses four illegal immigrants — three from Bangladesh and a Sudanese — who are waiting to be deported. All four were brought here in the last 15 days after the conclusion of criminal cases against them.
Opened in December last year at Sondekoppa village at Nelamangala Taluk, 40 km from Bengaluru city, the centre’s first detainee was a Sudanese national brought here in October. He has now been deported.
The centre, set up in accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) manual for state governments, is maintained by the social welfare department, Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)), and guarded by police personnel from the City Armed Reserve (CAR) and Madanayakanahalli police station in whose It jurisdiction it falls.
An official from the detention centre said one of the Bangladeshis detained was arrested by the police for stealing from an ATM kiosk in Electronic City, east Bengaluru while two others are labourers staying illegally in India.
“A Sudanese national is in detention for overstaying in the country,” the official added.
On why there are so few inmates at the centre, an FRRO official said, “Most illegal immigrants have cases pending against them and are arrested. Only those who have been acquitted in all cases are sent to the detention centre. The process of deporting them to their native country starts thereafter.”
No CCTV camera, staff quarters
On Wednesday, Indianexpress.com visited the detention centre, which was previously a hostel for economically backward students, and found four police officials deputed there. A cook and a warden were also on duty. There were two security towers at the centre and barbed wires on walls.
There are a total of 16 security personnel at the centre who work on rotation basis to ensure round-the-clock surveillance.
Krishnappa, an official from the City Armed Reserve who is on duty in the detention centre for the past few months, said there are seven rooms, a kitchen and a common bathroom. “There are 15 beds in the facility and they are constructing rooms for the police personnel. A security room is there at the entrance.”
Sources said there are still no CCTV cameras and construction of staff quarters is yet not complete.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, a staff from the centre said, “The staff working in the centre have no facilities. Since the staff quarters are not yet ready, the police personnel have to sit inside the police jeep or under the trees. There are electricity issues most of the time as generators are not provided. Food is only provided to the inmates and not to the police personnel who are guarding the centre round-the-clock,”
The staff also said that if the detention centre gets more inmates, the number of security personnel have to be increased. A separate room for women should also be constructed, he added.
Inmates can use mobile, three-time meals provided
The inmates are provided three meals a day, including egg and chicken once a week, a staff said.
They are allowed to use mobile phones; there are no television sets, however. “The inmates are allowed to use mobile phones and talk to family and friends. We don’t stop them from using phones. They can walk around the premises also,” he added.
What does the MHA manual say:
The MHA’s manual for ‘Model detention centre/holding centre/ camp’ was prepared after an order by the Supreme Court in 2018 in connection with a writ petition by a Guwahati-based NGO. The NGO had raised the poor conditions at detention centres during the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
The facilities that the manual recommend include “electricity with generator, drinking water (including water coolers), facilities for hygiene, accommodation with beds, sufficient toilets/ baths with provision of running water, communication facilities, kitchen’’ as well as food, drainage and sewage facilities, security and separate quarters for men and women.
“It should be ensured that members of the same family are not separated and all family members are housed in the same detention centre,’’ says the manual.
The manual recommends creche facilities for young children of detainees and access to education for older children. Recreational facilities are also prescribed.