A day after the Supreme Court asked the Modi government to explain why it wants to deport Rohingya, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said “Rohingya are illegal immigrants and need to be deported as per law”.
The Minister said he did not want to comment on the legal aspect of the case, but was responding to “harsh and unnecessary criticism from human rights organisations”.
"I want to tell the international organisations whether the Rohingya are registered under the United Nations Human Rights Commission or not. They are illegal immigrants in India and as per law they stand to be deported,” Mr. Rijiju told presspersons at a briefing of the North East Democratic Alliance, a political platform of the BJP and its allies in Northeast India.
The migration of Rohingya, a minority Muslim community settled in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, who are now fleeing the country after being caught in violent ethnic clashes, have become a political issue in the northeastern States that share a border with Myanmar for nearly 1,600 km.
The second NEDA conclave, attended by five Chief Ministers from the northeastern region, discussed the issue of undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants and plans to seal the border.
Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is the convener of the NEDA, said, “Rohingya Muslims should be pushed back. We at Northeast are clear that we can’t take any more refugees.”
These comments from senior BJP functionaries come right in the middle of a three-day Myanmar visit of Prime Minister Modi.
Amnesty’s appeal to PM
The human rights organisation Amnesty International said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should “use his visit to urge the Myanmarese authorities to protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid to the affected areas”. “As a historic friend of Myanmar, India can play an important role in defusing tensions and saving civilian lives. Prime Minister Modi must urge the Myanmar authorities to address the long-standing and systematic discrimination against Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine State, which has left people trapped in a cycle of violence and deprivation,” Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International India, said.
The issue was also heard by the Supreme Court on Monday after two undocumented Rohingya immigrants petitioned it, challenging the Centre’s deportation plan.
Mr. Rijiju said, “We have asked the State governments to make a task force and start the process of identifying them wherever they are so that they can be deported.”