The Maharashtra government on Tuesday announced that the request for land to build detention centres in Navi Mumbai has nothing to do with the National Register of Citizens (NRC). There were reports earlier that equated the government's intention to attain land as a way to house illegal immigrants. Brijesh Singh, Directorate General of Information and Public Relations, refuting the reports, issued a statement. He referred to Section 4 of Foreigners Act 1946 which has the provision to provide detention centres for foreigners.
Brijesh Singh spoke of detention centres as the means to cater to the foreign nationals who need to be deported. Foreign nationals who have extended their stay, violating the visa rules are to be immediately transported or after sentencing, till the documentation process is completed. Singh further added that the detention centres for Maharashtra have been in the pipeline for a while. Referring to the Foreigners Act, he stated that this is a completely legitimate project that has been long overdue. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had earlier opened a similar detention in Goa in May this year.
The NRC came into being in 1951 under the purview of the Census Act, 1948. It is a documented register maintained by the government which contains names and relevant data for the identification of Indian citizens. The process is aimed at separating genuine Indian citizens from illegal immigrants. The state of Assam became the first state to start an updation process in 2013 which ended with the receipt of forms by the NRC authorities on 31 August 2015. As per the terms of NRC, a resident living in Assam has to prove that they or their ancestors entered Assam before midnight on March 24, 1971. Anyone failing to do so would be declared a foreigner. In the final list, 3,11,21,004 Assam residents have been found eligible, while 19,06,657 Assam were found ineligible.