There is no connection between detention centres and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) or the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in an interview with news agency ANI, rubbishing reports that purpose-built jails to lock up those who don't make it to the citizens' list are coming up in some parts of the country. He also denied reports that people excluded from Assam's citizens' list are living in detention centres.
"We have also made several tribunals for this and nobody has been kept in the detention centre. 19 lakh people, who have been excluded from the list there, are staying at their home only," Mr Shah said.
The Home Minister's clarification on Tuesday comes after days of violent protests across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NRC. The National Register of Citizens, or NRC, meant to target illegal migrants, was carried out in Assam earlier this year and left out 19 lakh people. The opposition alleges that along with the new citizenship law, NRC can be used to target Muslims.
"There is no connection between detention centres and NRC or CAA. A centre in Assam has been there for years and is for illegal migrants. Misinformation is being spread on this," he said.
"Detention centres are a continuous process. If a foreigner is found without documents, he can't be kept in jails, he is kept at detention centres temporarily until they are deported later," he explained.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a rally in Delhi on Sunday, had also denied that there were any detention centres in India. He had implied that the nationwide rollout of citizens' list -- a matter referred to repeatedly by his home minister Amit Shah -- may not be happening.
Mr Shah today echoed PM Modi's views, saying there has not been any discussion on implementing pan-India citizens' list.
"There is no need to debate this (pan-India NRC) as there is no discussion on it right now, PM Modi was right, there is no discussion on it yet either in the Cabinet or Parliament," he said.
There have been violent protests in several parts of the country against the amended Citizenship Act, the first-ever law to make religion a criteria for citizenship. The government says it will help non-Muslims from Muslim-dominated Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan become Indian citizens if they fled religious persecution in their country and entered India before 2015. Activists, students, opposition parties and other protesters say the law discriminates against Muslims and is against the secular tenets of the constitution.
With inputs from ANI