GOALPARA, India - Across a river in a remote part of India’s northeast, laborers have cleared dense forest in an area equivalent to about seven soccer fields and are building the first mass detention center for illegal immigrants.
The camp in the lush, tea-growing state of Assam is intended for at least 3,000 detainees. It will also have a school, a hospital, a recreation area and quarters for security forces - as well as a high boundary wall and watchtowers, according to Reuters interviews with workers and contractors at the site and a review of copies of its layout plans.
Some of the workers building the camp said they were not on a citizenship list Assam released last week as part of a drive to detect illegal immigrants. That means the workers could themselves end up in detention.
Shefali Hajong, a gaunt tribal woman from a nearby village, said she was not on the list and will join nearly two million people who need to prove they are Indian citizens by producing documents such as birth and land ownership certificates dating back decades.