Thursday 08 Dec 2022

Five years on, detention centre for foreigners in dire straits



About five years after then Chief Minister (late) Manohar Parrikar’s one of dream projects -- Detention Center for Foreigners was commissioned in May 2019 -- the facility is in a dire straits. 

The pitiable situation has ultimately impacted the overall functioning besides housing and deporting Goa’s unwanted visitors, if not in all cases.

The ill-equipped Centre is back in the spotlight against the backdrop of Goa Police’s crackdown on overstaying Bangladeshi nationals in the State. Foreigners overstaying their visas are issued a notice of ‘restricted movement’ -- at least in majority cases -- than being lodged in the facility, which is managed by the Social Welfare Department.

The troubled inmates have accused the authorities of turning a blind eye to their requirements claiming that they don’t have even the basic facilities in place. “The entire arrangement is a mess for the past several months. We have nobody to complain about problems the inmates are going through. Necessary requirements from eatables to toiletries are not in the required quantum or up to the mark. Medicines too are not made available to us despite government doctors’ prescription,” said one of them. 

The Goan has reliably learnt that the Centre does not have a Superintendent since November 2020 while two other employees are allegedly not reporting on duty. “A portion of the Detention Centre was inundated during the rains as a result of which the two Class ‘C’ employees are unwilling to continue their work here,” the source said.

Sources further claim that the shortage of beds/cots is also creating a major hurdle and several official communiqué from the FRRO to the Social Welfare Department have fallen on deaf ears.

The Goan contacted the Social Welfare Director Sandhya Kamat, who denied the allegations. “The inmates are allowed to cook so there is no question of inadequate supply of food,” she stated. Kamat took the charge of the department on August 22, 2022.

Admitting that the infrastructure needs repair and upgradation, she further added that the government has approved a Superintendent who will soon fill in the vacancy.

FRRO SP Bosco George, on the other hand, refused to comment on the issue citing it is the domain of the Social Welfare Department.

In about 40 months, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) has deported an impressive 106 foreigners, most of who were in conflict with the law while only nine are currently lodged in the Detention Center.

As per government data, as many as 50 overstaying foreigners, majorly from African nations, were arrested from 2020-2022 till date. The FRRO, in a record drive, has deported a total of 106 illegal immigrants and those in conflict with the law. Uganda nationals constitute the highest with 36 sent back to their country during the last three years while 17 are Tanzanians, 12 Nigerians, and 10 Russians among others.

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