Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said that the structure constructed in Nelamangala, which is allegedly meant to house illegal immigrants is not a detention centre.
Addressing the media on Tuesday regarding the police firing in Mangaluru, Home Minister Bommai said that the center was initially a hostel maintained by the Social Welfare Department and later converted into a facility to lodge "Nigerian nationals and immigrants" accused of crimes in the city.
"The facility was constructed by the Social Welfare Department. There are so 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," Basavaraj Bommai said.
His denial comes in the wake of massive protests in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens. It also comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that there are no detention centres in India.
The Home Minister also said that the facility is monitored by the Social Welfare Department and that unlike other reports, the centre is currently not operational. "No, we have not opened the facility. You can ask Social Welfare Department officials," Basavaraj Bommai said.
The Times of India, on Tuesday, reported that the detention centre has been opened for use. Social Welfare Department Commissioner Peddapaiah said the SWD only maintains the facility and has no say in who is lodged in the facility. "There were some minor works that needed to be completed and it has been done. The facility is ready for use. It’s up to the Home Department and immigration officials and police to decide who will be lodged there," an official with the department told TNM.
The restructuring of the facility started during the JD(S)-Congress regime. In October this year, Home Minister Bommai had told TNM that the centre was meant to house illegal immigrants. His statement on Tuesday is a complete U-turn to his previous statement. State Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had then confirmed that the Home Department is collecting information on illegal immigrants and that the National Register of Citizens (NRC), first implemented in Assam, is being studied with a view of implementing it in Karnataka.
“We (government) have started the preliminary exercise to prepare the ground to introduce NRC in Karnataka by collecting necessary information (about illegal immigrants). After this, we’ll discuss it with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and take a final call in a week or two,” Basavaraj Bommai had said.