A 60-year-old woman lodged in a detention centre for illegal foreigners in Kokrajhar in Assam died on Sunday evening, officials confirmed on Tuesday. She was a cancer patient. With this, the total number of deaths in Assam’s detention centres has risen to 30.
A senior police officer of Kokrajhar district identified the woman as Rabeda Begum alias Roba Begum, hailing from Dima Hasao district. Jail records show that she was in detention since February 2018. The officer said she was under treatment at a hospital in Kokrajhar where she died.
Islamuddin (30), a grandson of Begum, told The Indian Express over the phone that his mother (Begum’s daughter) Mina is also in the same detention facility. “My mother and grandmother were picked up the same day. Now, my grandmother is gone, and my mother is alone there. She was suffering for a long time from cancer.”
Islamuddin described the family as “very poor” and said that he is a daily-wage labourer working in Lumding town of Hojai district. “We have not filed an appeal against the Foreigners’ Tribunal in the High Court. I could not even afford transportation of my grandmother’s body to Lumding and government officials arranged for it.”
Assam currently has six detention centres to hold ‘illegal foreigners’, but these are all located inside jails. Together they hold 800 odd detainees, as the latest data show.
According to the data presented by Centre in Rajya Sabha last November, 28 people were reported to be dead in the state’s detention centres till then. After that, 56-year-old Naresh Koch, who was lodged in a detention centre in Goalpara district for nearly two years, died in January after a brief illness.
A new detention centre — solely for the purpose of detaining ‘illegal foreigners’— is under construction in Matia of Goalpara district, around 150 km from Guwahati. It is being built as per guidelines laid down by the Centre and circulated in January 2019.