AT LEAST 50 inmates, from countries ranging from Sudan to Pakistan, at the detention facility in Lampur, Monday went on an “indefinite hunger strike” protesting the “slave-like” treatment meted out to them. Alleging that they are extorted at the facility, they said that they have to suffer poor living conditions, and are given bad quality food and expired medicines.
Before the strike, they had written several letters to the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministry of External Affairs. All of the letters, however, have gone unanswered, they claimed. A letter dated August 17 states that the reason for the “indefinite hunger strike” is the “indefinite incarceration of three-thirteen months by the Indian Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) without any court judgment”. The letter also alleges that extortion takes place in the name of “real deportation” for which the charge varies between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1,20,000. It adds, “We are not slaves nor goods for sale by the Indian FRRO”.
The letter also alleges the “black Africans” are arrested by the “FRRO Police” as “street black dogs for their skin color and concentrated in the camp”. It repeatedly urges the authorities to “respect African culture”, provide “African food” and “not… rice and unpeeled potatoes every day”. Chinyere Nnamdi, from Nigeria, who formerly worked as a soccer coach in a Delhi league and is a barber as well, said he was arrested on November 23 last year. He said, “The conditions here are not conducive to live, the food quality is really bad… two slices of bread in the morning… unpeeled potatoes with some water sauce. They also give us expired medicines.”
Mohammad Qamar, identified as a “Pakistan national” who was arrested on February 7, 2015, claimed he had been wrongfully detained and that he hails from Meerut. “I have been in custody for five years and I have been detained here for more than two years. I am not a Pakistani national. I was born in Meerut. My wife and five children live in Meerut,” he claimed.
Onukawa Ugochukwu Bright, a Nigerian national, claimed that his passport and visa were valid when he was arrested. “The FRRO conducted a raid and arrested five Nigerian nationals last August. I was one of them. I told them that I was a student and I gave them my passport but they arrested me and brought me to this deportation camp. I have been here for a year,” he said.
Mohammad Hussain, a Pakistani national, said that he decided to go on “hunger strike” because his case was being delayed. “I was detained on October 12, 2012, and was acquitted by the sessions court soon after. Then I was acquitted by the High Court in May 2015. Then the special cell appealed to the Supreme Court in March 2017,” he said.
On being asked about the allegations, Additional CP (FRRO), Prabhakar, said that the questions should be addressed to “Secretary Social Welfare, GNCT Of Delhi”. Despite repeated attempts, Secretary, Social Welfare, A K Jain, did not respond. A Delhi government spokesperson said, “If at all there are any lapses related to living conditions, then there will be zero tolerance.”