The Home Ministry has replied to a notice issued by the National Human Rights Commission over the planned deportation of Rohingya Muslims.
The Ministry is learnt to have defended its decision, deeming Rohingya “illegal immigrants” from Myanmar. The deportations would be done as per the laid-down procedure. A Ministry spokesperson confirmed that a report had been sent to the NHRC.
Another Ministry official said a factual report was sent to the NHRC and the various provisions of Foreigners Act and Passport Act, which bar foreigners from illegally staying in the country, have been mentioned in the reply.
“The decision to deport the Rohingya rests with the executive. This was told to the Supreme Court as well. The same reply has been given to the National Human Rights Commission ” an official said.
Taking cognisance of media reports, including The Hindu ’s, the NHRC had asked the Home Ministry about the government’s plan to deport the Rohingya by setting up “detention centres”. It observed that the “refugees are no doubt foreign nationals but they are human beings”.
The Home Ministry is learnt to have told the NHRC that a procedure for detection and deportation of illegal immigrants existed under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and that consolidated instructions were issued afresh on April 19, 2014.
In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on September 18, the Home Ministry said, “A fragile north-eastern corridor may become further destabilised in case of stridency of Rohingya militants, which the Central government has found to be growing, if permitted to continue. There is also a serious potential and possibility of eruption of violence against the Buddhists who are Indian citizens who stay on Indian soil, by the radicalised Rohingya.”
On August 19, the Home Ministry issued a circular, asking all States to identify illegal immigrants and deport them as per the procedure.
An official said that identifying an undocumented citizen was a “tedious” process and the final decision lay with a tribunal, set up in such cases to determine their nationality.
“The local police first enquires if the person is not an Indian citizen. He or she will be subject to trial and, if the tribunal decides against the subject, the deportation process will begin. A communication will be sent to the Myanmar government to verify their address,” the official said.