Amid nation-wide protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), the first detention centre in Karnataka, has been opened in Sondekoppa village near Bengaluru reportedly meant to lodge illegal immigrants and migrants overstaying in the country.

The news comes after Prime Minister Modi in a rally on Sunday said that no detention centres are being constructed in the country. “Congress aur urban Naxals ke dwara udai gayi detention centres ka afwa, sara sar jhooth hai. Bad iraade wali hai, desh ko barbad karne wali hai, ye napak irada se bhari hai, ye jhooth hai, jhooth hai, jhooth hai (The rumour of detention centres being spread by the Congress and urban Naxals is totally false. This is being done with a bad intention to destroy the country, it’s filled with evil motives; this is a lie, lie, lie).”

The facility with several rooms, a kitchen and toilets has been kept ready on the directions of the government, a social welfare department official said. However, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai objected to the term ‘Detention Centre’.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he had said, “In qualified terms, it is not a detention centre. There is no purpose per se to detain someone on the issue of citizenship.” He ruled out that the centre has been operationalised.

“.. please check with the social welfare department. At least I have no information that it has started. If at all it has been operationalised then there should be some detenue there? No one is there,” he added.

According to Bommai, the purpose to keep the facility ready was to lodge African nationals overstaying in India and indulging in drug peddling. He said their illegal activities create a law and order situation in the country.

“It is only to keep them (African nationals) there and send them back to their nation,” he added. A social welfare department officer told PTI on condition of anonymity that they have got the direction to keep the ‘Central Relief Centre’ (CRC) ready before January 1.

The 20-year-old building was a hostel for more than 18 years for the poor and downtrodden community but as the number of students dwindled, it was lying vacant for almost two years waiting for the habitants.

Explaining the reason behind including the Social Welfare Department in this project, the officer said, “Food, accommodation and clothes will be provided to the detenus by our Social Welfare Department.”

But, Foreign Regional Registration Officer Labhu Ram, said, “Please check with the Social Welfare Department. The detention centre is looked after by the social welfare department.”