The first batch of more than 60 'foreigners' were moved to a freshly constructed detention centre, officially known as a 'transit camp,' at Assam’s Goalpara on Friday, 27 January, sources told The Quint.
The move marks the start of a phase-wise transfer of 'foreigners' to the Matia Transit Camp, almost 150 km from Guwahati.
Back in September 2019, The Quint brought an exclusive first look at Matia, India’s largest detention centre located in the Goalpara district of Assam.
In August last year, the Assam Government renamed the detention centers in Assam to 'transit camps' in an attempt to humanise them.
The camp is Assam’s first centre to exclusively house “illegal foreigners,” and was built according to guidelines laid down by the Central government. Before this, detainees were lodged in jail, within six ”detention centres” across Assam.
Out of the existing six ‘detention centres,’ two are within district jails in Jojrajhar and Gopalpur while central jails in Tezpur, Silchar, Dibrugarh and Jorhat house the other four.
The government has been long-criticised for the poor living conditions within the six jails, where the detainees are housed. Moreover, activists have said that a move to Matia will amount to indefinite incarceration, as no bilateral framework for deportation exists between India and Bangladesh, The Indian Express said,.
The Gauhati High Court has urged the government to shift people to Matia, especially since November 2022.
On 17 November, a bench of former Chief Justice of Guahati HC RM Chaaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia said that the transit camp was ready to habilitate people and directed the Sarma government to make “temporary arrangements for medical, para-medical and security staff”.