Assam’s transit camps: ‘A jail is a jail is a jail’

Apart from shifting outside jails, the detention centres for illegal immigrants in Assam have been required by the courts to be equipped with basic facilities like electricity, water and hygiene | All photos - Amarjyoti Borah

Five years,, 11 months and 29 days. That’s 2,190 days. Fifty-five-year-old Sona Khatun isn’t particularly good with numbers but these figures are at the tip of her tongue because that’s the exact number of days she has spent cooped up inside the Kokrajhar district jail campus in Assam. Technically, Khatun was in the ‘detention centre’ for illegal immigrants within the jail campus after being arrested in 2015.

Freed recently, Khatun is among 57 people who were released from the Goalpara (51 inmates) and Kokrajhar (6 inmates) centres in Assam, following a Supreme Court directive to release those who have spent more than two years in detention centres.

Days after their release, Khatun and others came to know that the ‘detention centres’ in Assam have been renamed on August 19 as ‘transit camps’ in order to “humanise” them. The purpose, however, remains the same—incarceration.

Nomenclature change

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