- Maharashtra Home Department looking for land to build detention centre
- Comes amid calls to identify illegal immigrants across the country
- Earlier this month, Assam's citizen's list excluded 19 lakh people
The Maharashtra Home Ministry has reportedly written to the Navi Mumbai planning authority asking for land on which to build a detention centre for illegal immigrants. The move, according to sources within the authority, comes less than a fortnight after the final NRC list in Assam declared 19 lakh people as foreigners and raises the possibility of a similar exercise in the country's second most populous state.
According to sources within the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) of Maharashtra, they have received a letter seeking a two-to-three-acre plot in Nerul, a residential and commercial neighbourhood in Navi Mumbai that is approximately 20 kilometres from Mumbai.
The ministry has denied sending any such letter but, according to guidelines issued by the centre earlier this year, all major immigration points in the country are required to build detention centres.
News that such a centre may be built in Maharashtra comes as the state prepares for Assembly elections in the next few months, with the Shiv Sena claiming there are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants living and working in Mumbai.
"NRC was needed in Assam to solve the problems of the original inhabitants of the region. That is why we supported the NRC move... want a similar exercise to be held in Mumbai to drive out the Bangladeshis living here," Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant told news agency ANI last week.
Earlier this year, while campaigning in Rajasthan for the national election, Amit Shah described Bangladeshi migrants as "termites" and that they would be struck off electoral rolls.
Citizenship verification exercises formed a major part of the BJP's election manifesto for both national elections in April-May and 2018 Assembly polls.
In July, Amit Shah told the Rajya Sabha the government would search "every inch of the country's soil" to identify illegal immigrants. He repeated that remark at a North East Council meeting in Assam today, stating "not a single illegal immigrant will be allowed to stay".
BJP ministers in the Bihar cabinet have also broached the subject of an NRC-style exercise in the state, where the party is in alliance with the Janata Dal (United).
In May Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant inaugurated a detention centre built at a cost of Rs 50 lakh.
Detention centres in Assam are currently housed inside prisons. The state is constructing a purpose-built centre in Goalpara district, reportedly the first of 10 such, with a capacity of 3,000 people and at a cost of Rs 46 crore.