Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the detention centre near Bengaluru is not to keep people with citizenship issues but for immigrants who have criminal cases against them. South India’s first detention centre in Sondekoppa, Karnataka, is reportedly meant to lodge illegal immigrants and migrants overstaying in the country.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Bommai said, “In qualified terms, it is not a detention centre. There is no purpose per se to detain someone on the issue of citizenship.”
He ruled out that the centre has been operationalised. “Please check with the social welfare department. At least I have no information that it has started. If it has been operationalised then there should be some detenue there? But no one is there,” he added.
To House African Nationals
According to the Home Minister, the purpose of the facility is to ‘lodge’ African nationals overstaying in India and who are involved in drug peddling. He said that their illegal activities have created a law and order situation in the country. “It is only to keep African nationals there and send them back to their nation,” he added.
He further said, “The facility was constructed by the Social Welfare Department. There are many cases of Nigerian men and women attacking police. If a case is registered against them, they will have to remain here. The facility is to house such people so that they can be deported to their countries. It is not meant to house any person with issues about citizenship. It is not a detention centre”.
However, a social welfare department officer told PTI on condition of anonymity that they have got the direction to keep the ‘Central Relief Centre’ (CRC) ready before January 1st 2020. On being asked, the reason behind the Social Welfare Department being involved in this project, the officer said, “Food, accommodation, and clothes will be provided to the detenus by our Social Welfare Department.”
The building was originally built and operated as a hostel in 1992 for students from socially-underprivileged classes by the social welfare department. But after the number of the students lodged in the hostel consistently decreased, it was closed in 2008.
The original structure was refurbished last year with two additional watchtowers, tall walls, barbed fencing, concertina wiring and security around the borders of the centre.