Nearly 20,000 people had been declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) in Assam till October 2017 and were kept in detention centres, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday.
"As per the monthly report of disposal of cases in FTs of Assam, 19,612 'D' (doubtful/ disputed) voters were declared foreigners till October, 2017," the Minister of State for Home Affairs said in Lok Sabha replying to a written question.
Rijiju said issuing notice to the 'D' voters is a legal process and there is no question of harassing people. 'D' voters are not detained.
"Only persons declared by FTs as foreigners are kept in the detention centres," he said.
The minister said as per the white paper on foreigners issue, released by Assam government's Home and Political Department, during intensive revision of electoral rolls in Assam in 1997, the letter 'D' (for doubtful/disputed) was marked against the names of those electors who could not prove their Indian citizenship status at the time of verification.
Based on the verification report, the Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) took a decision on whether a reference to the concerned tribunal was necessary to ascertain the Indian citizenship status of such electors.
Rijiju said that once EROs confirmed in the affirmative, such cases were forwarded to the competent authority (SP of the concerned district) for reference to the concerned tribunals.
"Based on the judgements/orders of the tribunals, the letter 'D' was either removed if Indian citizenship status was confirmed or name of the electors deleted from the electoral rolls if citizenship status as Indian could not be established in court," he said.