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Rohingya are illegal immigrants, not refugees: Rajnath
September 23, 2017 - Written by Faysal Aadan

“We have to think about the rights of our own people”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that Rohingya Muslims are illegal immigrants and not refugees who had applied for asylum in India. Mr. Singh’s statement drew a sharp rebuttal from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson H.L. Dattu. The retired Chief Justice of India said the human rights body was helping the Rohingya on “humanitarian grounds” as they faced persecution in Myanmar.

Addressing a seminar organised by the NHRC, Mr. Singh said “We have to think about the human rights of our own people before talking about the human rights of people from other countries.”

“The Home Ministry has clarified its position through its affidavit [in the Supreme Court] that they are illegal immigrants and they will be deported. The Rohingya are not refugees. There is a procedure to get refugee status and none of them has followed this procedure. No Rohingya has received asylum in India nor has anyone applied for it. They are illegal immigrants,” he said.

After Mr. Singh’s address, Justice (Retd.) Dattu told reporters, “We cannot comment on the Government’s policies. We are helping them [the Rohingyas] because they face threat in Myanmar. I look at them as human beings, their rights being violated. They have to be protected.”

Mr. Singh said India would not be violating any international law if it deports Rohingya as it is not a signatory to the U.N.’s 1951 Refugees Convention.

The NHRC, quoting a report in The Hindu on the Centre’s plan to deport the Rohingya, recently issued a notice to the Centre.

Justice Dattu said the NHRC will implead the SC to become a party in the case being heard in the apex court. Two Rohingya have moved the SC against the Centre’s plan to deport them to Myanmar, where they face grave threat to life.

On Monday, the Centre filed an affidavit in the SC that Rohingya had links to terror outfits such as the Islamic State and those in Pakistan.

India cannot risk security: Rajnath

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that “some people had again raked up the issue of human rights of Rohingya, who came to India illegally.”

Addressing a seminar organised by the NHRC, Mr. Singh said that any sovereign country was free to take a decision on what kind of action it should take against illegal immigrants.

“The issue of national security is involved with regard to illegal immigration, which our country cannot undermine,” Mr. Singh said.

He also referred to Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s statement two days ago that her country would resettle some of the refugees.

“I am sure Myanmar will take positive steps to take back the Rohingya… the non-refoulement principle is applicable to those who take asylum. No Rohingya has got asylum in India nor have they applied for it. That is why we should not commit the mistake of according the status of refugees to illegal immigrants in the name of human rights,” he said.

However, India had provided humanitarian assistance to Rohingya living in Bangladesh, which was “also affected by the illegal immigration of Rohingya,” Mr. Singh said.

On September 14, India sent 53 tonnes of relief material to Bangladesh for the Rohingya, who have poured into that country following the violence in Myanmar.

Give evidence: Congress

The Congress said that the Centre should make public “whatever evidences” it has about any links of some of the Rohingyas with the ISIS and take action as per the Indian law against those found having any such connection.

The party said that “false allegations” should not be levelled against any person.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala made the statement after Mr. Singh said Rohingyas are illegal immigrants and not refugees.

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