No plan yet to deport Rohingya, says Kiren Rijiju

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said here on Monday that the government had not yet firmed up a plan to deport Rohingya, and had only asked the State governments to identify illegal immigrants and initiate action under established procedure.

Mr. Rijiju told The Hindu that India gave “utmost importance to humanitarian concerns and has always accepted refugees”.

He was reacting to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s statement that “India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations”.

‘India most humane’

Mr. Rijiju, while reacting to Mr. Hussein’s statement, said, “But the United Nations and other international organisations do not understand the internal security or national security problems of India. India has been the most humane nation and we have asked the State governments to initiate action as per the established procedure. They [Rohingya] are still here.”

In an official communication issued on August 8, the Home Ministry directed the States to conduct surveys and prepare to deport Rohingya in a “continuous manner.”

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan moved the Supreme Court against the order and appearing on behalf of two Rohingya, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, made a plea to “protect their life and liberty”.

The court will hear the matter on September 18.

The Minister said he would not like to disclose the communication with Myanmar on taking back Rohingya.

“The Rohingya are a unique problem. The Home Ministry’s stand in the Supreme Court is on the basis of a legal position and the MHA’s (Ministry of Home Affairs) directions to States to identify Rohingya are on the basis of the legal position,” Mr. Rijiju said.

Mr. Hussein, while addressing the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said, “I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingya at a time of such violence against them in their country. Some 40,000 Rohingya have settled in India and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation. The Minister of State for Home Affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion. However, by virtue of customary law, its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the obligations of due process and the universal principle of non-refoulement (a number of international instruments relating to refugees), India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations.”

As reported by The Hindu on Monday, India’s shift in position on the Myanmar issue on Saturday was prompted by a series of requests from the Bangladesh government “at the highest levels”.

On scribe’s murder

Mr. Hussein also mentioned the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore last week.

“The current wave of violent and often lethal mob attacks against people under the pretext of protecting the lives of cows is alarming. People who speak out for fundamental human rights are also threatened. Gauri Lankesh, a journalist who tirelessly addressed the corrosive effect of sectarianism and hatred, was assassinated last week. I have been heartened by the subsequent marches calling for protection of the right to freedom of expression, and by demonstrations in 12 cities to protest the lynchings,” Mr. Hussein said.

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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 12:28:28 AM |

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