Woman in Assam Detention Centre Dies of Cancer; Toll Touches 30 Mark

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One of the detention centres in Assam (Photo – livelaw.in)

Clarion India

New Delhi – Roba Begum, a 60-year-old woman, became the 30th casualty of Assam’s detention centres.

Begum, who was battling with cancer, passed away in the centre located in Kokrajhar area of the state on Sunday evening, Indian Express reported quoting officials.

The report said that the deceased was undergoing treatment at a hospital in the district. She hailed from Dima Hasao district and was under detention since February 2018 after officials declared her a foreigner under the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise.

According to the report, her grandson Islamuddin (30) said his mother (Begum’s daughter Mina) is in the same detention facility. “My mother and grandmother were picked up the same day. Now that my grandmother is gone, my mother is alone there. She was suffering for a long time from cancer.”

Islamuddin, who is a daily wage labourer, said the family is poor and hence was not in a position to appeal against the Foreigners’ Tribunal in the High Court. “I could not even afford transportation of my grandmother’s body to Lumding. Government officials arranged for it.”

The report said there are 800 ‘illegal foreigners’ lodged in six detention centres which are housed in traditional jails in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi denied the existence of such camps in December, at a rally in Delhi, when protests against the CAA and NRC were picking up.

Few days ago, New York Times reported that officials of the tribunals set up for NRC exercise were pressured to declare more Muslims as non-citizens.

In November last year, the government informed the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, that 28 detainees lodged in these centres died till then. In January, shortly after PM Modi’s denial, one more person, Naresh Koch, died while he was lodged in the centre.

In 2017, Koch, who was illiterate, had failed to give documentary proof of his citizenship. His son was, however, able to make it to the NRC list.

On August 31, the government in Assam published a list of citizens under NRC that declared 1.9 million people stateless. A significant chunk of these people are Muslims who have been living in the state for decades but are accused of having come from the neighbouring Bengal region.

The state is now gearing for setting up detention centers for these stateless people. In fact, such centres already exist and many people have already been detained there.

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