A 65-year-old man lodged in a detention camp for illegal migrants in Assam — whose family claims he was mentally unstable — died at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Sunday where he had been admitted for treatment due to “deteriorating health”, police and family members said.
A senior police officer said the deceased, Dulal Paul, a resident of Alisinga village of Sonitpur district, was admitted to the GMCH on September 28. The officer said Paul had been in the detention centre in Tezpur since October 11, 2017.
Sadhan Paul, a nephew of Dulal, said, “He was mentally unstable… His siblings and their families are in the NRC. Our family has land documents dating back to the 1960s. A mentally-unstable person was put into detention.”
Currently, Assam has six detention centres but they are housed in district jails, together they hold 1000-odd people. A seventh centre, is under construction in Goalpara district.
According to government data, 24 persons declared as ‘illegal foreigners’ by Assam’s Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) and lodged in detention camps have died in the last three years.
In July, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, replying to the state Assembly on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal — who also holds the Home portfolio — said a total of 25 persons have died in the six detention camps of Assam.
The minister’s response said that seven people died in 2018 and 2019 (till July), six in 2017, four in 2016, and one in 2011. The reason for all the deaths is mentioned as “due to illness”.
As per data presented in the Assembly, the addresses of only two of the deceased are mentioned as to be in Bangladesh. All the others had an address in Assam.
“Due to illness, these people lodged in detention camps were admitted to hospitals after which they died… None of the bodies were sent to Bangladesh,” Patowary had said.