By Elton Gomes
On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected the plea to halt the deportation of seven Rohingya immigrants to Myanmar from Assam.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi rejected the plea on the grounds that all seven Rohingya were found as illegal immigrants by the court earlier. The apex court decided to deport the immigrants as Myanmar is ready to accept them as their nationals.
“We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken,” the apex court said, the Indian Express reported.
The seven immigrants, who have been lodged in Assam’s jail since 2012, were to be handed over to Myanmar authorities at the Moreh border post in Manipur yesterday (October 4).
An official said that Myanmar diplomats were given consular access, and that the identity of the immigrants were confirmed.
What have the petitioners said?
The government’s top lawyer, Tushar Mehta, told the Supreme Court that the Myanmar embassy was prepared to give a certificate of identity to the Rohingya.
However, representing the Rohingya, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan argued that the government’s move contradicted the UN charter.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi asked Bhushan: “First of all, they have been recognised as Myanmar citizens. What you have to say?”
Bhushan replied, “It is wrong, they haven’t been recognised,” and said that it was the responsibility of the court.
“You need not remind us what’s our responsibility,” CJI Gogoi shot back, and dismissed the petition, NDTV reported.
UN bodies criticize India, say Myanmar not ‘sustainable’ for Rohingya
As India prepared to initiate the deportation process for the seven Rohingya migrants, two United Nations bodies criticised the move and urged the Indian government to refrain from doing anything that could potentially put the immigrants’ lives in danger.
“UN High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed its view that the current conditions in Rakhine State in Myanmar are not conducive for safe, dignified and sustainable return for Rohingya,” a UNHCR spokesperson told the Hindu.
The spokesperson also urged India to reconsider its decision and “refrain from measures that could directly or indirectly lead to the return of a person to a country where his or her life or freedom would be in danger.”
In another statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, said: “The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection,” the Hindu reported.
The Rohingya in India
After facing incessant violence in Myanmar, the Rohingya headed towards Bangladesh, India, and other surrounding areas. The large influx of Rohingya refugees seemed like a burden, but Bangladesh were lauded for their response towards the Rohingya.
On the other hand, the Rohingya faced hostility after India refused to open its doors to the immigrants. Union Minister Kiren Rijiju asserted that the Rohingya were illegal immigrants and they should be deported. Rijiju said that India does not need lessons on migration as it had already absorbed refugees in large numbers.
“I want to tell the international organisations whether the Rohingyas are registered under the United Nations Human Rights Commission or not. They are illegal immigrants in India,” Rijiju told the press.
Thereafter, India’s home ministry said that it would be sharing intelligence information with the Supreme Court showing that the Rohingya had links with Pakistan-based militants.
The ministry said that the illegal influx of several Rohingya migrants into India began four to five years ago, which was prior to the exodus that saw more than 400,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh.
The Home ministry’s affidavit said that the government had reports from security agencies and other authentic sources “indicating linkages of some of the unauthorized Rohingya immigrants with Pakistan-based terror organizations and similar organizations operating in other countries,” as per a Reuters report.
Denouncing the move, Prashant Bhushan – the lawyer representing the Rohingya – said, “This is clearly a case of religious discrimination and an attempt to arouse an anti-Muslim feeling,” Al-Jazeera reported.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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