Rohingyas: To keep them or not?

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation in Naypyitaw Myanmar Sept 19 2017. Reuters

A petition has been filed with India's Supreme Court, challenging the government's plan to deport as many as 40,000 Rohingya who have fled Myanmar.

Home Minister Kiren Rijiju recently revealed that only 14,000 or so Rohingya Muslims in India were registered with the United Nations refugee agency, and that India was considering deporting the illegal refugees.

The Rohingya refugee matter is listed for hearing by the top court on October 3. "None among them has followed that procedure", the minister said in his address to the "National Seminar on Good Governance, Development and Human Rights" here.

The government in its 16-page affidavit expressed fear of violence against Buddhists living in India by radicalised Rohingyas. "No illegal immigrant can pray for a writ of this court which directly or indirectly confers the fundamental rights in general...", the affidavit said, urging the court to throw out the PIL filed by two Rohingyas. In 1947 they wanted the Rakhine province of Myanmar to merge with the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), an idea which was opposed by Jinnah, the man responsible for the creation of Pakistan.

Bangladesh struggles with more than 410,000 Rohingya who have flooded across the border since August 25 when the military in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim group. We bat for the refugees in question not because they are Rohingya Muslims, but because they are members of the wider human family.

On Monday, the Centre told the apex court that since India is not a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, the obligations concerned to non-refoulement is not applicable.

They are not refugees, nor have they taken asylum, the minister said of the almost 40,000 people who the Centre has said it will remove from India, provoking worldwide criticism.

Pointing that the influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar started in 2012-13, the Centre said there was an organised "influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar through agents and touts" facilitating their entry into India through West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. He was two years' old when his parents were forced to flee their home in Rakhine state of Myanmar. Rijiju said, "I request global human rights' bodies to not spread misinformation about India and the Indian government, protecting the nation is our duty". Our country has taken oral universal declaration (for human rights).

However, he also admits that there is a contradiction in India accepting the humanitarian aspect of the Rohingya refugee flows when it comes to Bangladesh but not accepting the same logic when it comes to India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated that support earlier this month when he visited Myanmar and met with its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Rohingya Muslims belong to Arakan (Rakhine) province of Myanmar.

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