Conceding that detention centres were first constructed by the UPA government, former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, on Thursday, said that the centres were first built in Assam under High Court's orders for detaining declared foreigners. He added that the BJP government too allocated Rs. 46.41 crores in funds to construct the bigger detention centre in Goalpara to house 3000 inmates. He said that as that the 'foreigners' were needed to be housed somewhere as Bangladesh was not accepting genuine foreigners then.
"Yes, we did it under the instructions of the High Court in 2009. According to the judge, we could not detain those declared foreigners in normal jail, then where will we detain them? So the government did as per the orders. Subsequently, the government of India allotted funds also in 2018 for constructing a big centre in Goalpara. It is also the BJP government which supported this detention centre for housing around 3000 inmates," he said.
He added, "Once the foreigners' tribunal declared them as foreigners and Bangladesh was also not accept it, we needed to keep them somewhere. Now, Bangladesh minister has said that if we give them the list of genuine Bangladeshis, they will accept them. During my tenure, they did not accept them."
When asked about the detention camps in Assam, he said that now there was no need of these centres as the Bangladesh government has agreed to accept a genuine list of Bangladeshis. Casting doubt on the Centre's intentions he said that the government was confused on NRC and did not know how to move forward. He said it was an attempt to hide the government's intentions.
"Issue is very complicated. Now you can remove the detention centres as Bangladesh has accepted to take the genuine Bangladeshis back. There is no need for detention camps," he said adding, "I have doubts on the intention that to hide the government's failure in economic issues, jobs, corruption they are diverting. It appears to me that the government is confused. They are riding on a tiger and don't know how to get rid of it."
Pointing out the Home Minister Amit Shah had staked claim for the Assam NRC, he said that Shah had batted for pan-India NRC. He said,"The Home Minister himself has claimed that pan-India they want NRC and he took credit also. According to him, all the 40 lakh people left out in the first draft (Assam NRC) were infiltrators and they will be deported also. Then they changed track seeing the big protests throughout the country."
Earlier in the day, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra showed a 2011 press release on three detention camps in Assam built during the UPA-2 era. He stated that the detention of 362 'illegal immigrants' was done in these centres prior to their deportation. Claiming that no detention centres had been constructed by the NDA government, he called Gandhi the 'King of Lies'.
"In this press release dated 13 December 2011, the Ministry of Home Affairs had admitted that three detention camps were opened in Assam - Gaolpara, Kokrajhar, and Silchar where 362 people have been detained in these detention camps. These people were detained prior to their deportation," he said in a press conference.
Patra was slamming Rahul Gandhi's tweet in which he had shared a news clip showing the detention centre in Assam's Goalpara stating that the Home Ministry in 2018 had sanctioned Rs. 46.41 crores to construct it, which has allegedly been 70% completed. Gandhi also termed PM Modi a liar for claiming there were no detention centres. Several other Opposition leaders have contradicted the Prime Minister's claim on 'No detention centres in India', stating that there were many documentaries on these centres and the lives of those detained.