Hyderabad: Sometime in 2018, when a letter from the ministry of home affairs (MHA) arrived at the desk of a senior government functionary in Telangana, advising the state government to construct a detention centre, the matter was discussed between a group of officials. Subsequently, it was brought to the notice of the powers-that-be. Thereafter, the matter was pushed into a cold storage.
Whether it happened by design, owing to friendly ties with the MIM, or was it just one among those many files that get stuck in red tape, the TS government appears in no mood — at least for the moment — to heed to the Centre’s push of having a detention centre in the state, just like the one in Karnataka.
Government sources told this newspaper that the MHA had written to TS government in 2018 to have a detention centre anywhere in the city to hold foreigners who face deportation for either overstaying illegally, or found to be without valid documents or those who were convicted by courts in various criminal cases.
Back then, the Centre is understood to have written to all states and followed up with those who had large number of foreigners staying in those states, including TS.
After receipt of the Centre’s note, the matter was discussed at senior levels, including by police officials. The note was circulated from one office to the other. But subsequently, nothing moved. The file is now gathering dust in one of the offices.
For the state government, this issue was not a priority, sources said, adding “it is just pending” and there is nothing more to it. “May be a detention centre could come up at a later date as it is required to hold illegally staying foreigners. But it has nothing to do with NRC,” a senior police official said.
Jails, lock-ups used to detain ‘illegals’
A few months ago, when the Hyderabad city police were tasked with holding two Nigerians, who were out of the Chanchalguda prison after serving their sentence in connection with a criminal case, they were kept inside a lock-up in one of the police complexes in the city, which was a temporary arrangement.
Policemen had no choice but to bear with them and their daily expenditure, and sometimes, their tantrums.
Likewise, over the years, police officials have been making temporary arrangements of holding the foreigners before deporting them. “This requires lot of resources as there is no dedicated detention centre,” they said.
Sources said that even now, at least two more foreign nationals, who have already served their time, are still being held in the Chanchalguda prison premises.
“There is no choice but to keep them back in an area within the compound till they are deported,” they said, adding that temporary arrangements can be tricky.
According to estimates, there are a few thousand foreigners living across TS, particularly Hyderabad. They are from Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and even from Iraq and Iran, besides other countries. There are quite a few Bangladeshi nationals as well in the city. Nigerian nationals have come on the police radar several times for various offences, particularly drug peddling....