India form task forces to deport Rohingyas

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KRISHNA N. DAS

Modi administration are in touch with Bangladesh and Myanmar about its plan to deport around 40K Rohingya Muslims it says are living in the country illegally, a government spokesman said in Delhi, with state governments told to form task forces for the purpose.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since the early 1990s, with some of them then crossing over a porous border into India.

Rohingya refugees in Rajiv Nagar in Jammu.                               Photo Credit: Syed Junaid Hashmi

New Delhi says only around 14,000 of the Rohingya living in India are registered with the UN refugee agency, making the rest illegal and liable to be sent back. India is not a signatory to UN conventions on refugees and no national law covers it.

federal government had directed state governments to “constitute task forces at district levels to identify and deport the illegally staying foreign nationals”

“These things are being discussed at diplomatic level with both Bangladesh and Myanmar,” a senior officer in MEA said. “More clarity will emerge at an appropriate time.”

Indian junior minister for home affairs Kiren Rijiju told parliament – the federal government had directed state governments to “constitute task forces at district levels to identify and deport the illegally staying foreign nationals”.

Rijiju was in Myanmar recently to attend an event, although it was not clear if he discussed the Rohingya issue.

Officials in Myanmar could not be contacted immediately for comment.

Amnesty International has said deporting and abandoning the Rohingya would be “unconscionable”.

The Indian office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it was “trying to find the facts” about New Delhi’s plans to deport them.

Jammu and Kashmir National Panther Party’s Anti-Rohingya and Bangladeshi billboards in Jammu

Unofficial report said more than 75K Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Oct. 9 last year after an insurgent group called Harakah al-Yaqin attacked Myanmar border police posts in Maungdaw, prompting a huge security crackdown in which troops have been accused of murder and rape of Rohingya civilians.

According to a senior government official in Dhaka, which has complained of being burdened by the heavy flow of refugees from the eastern side of Naf River, said New Delhi was helping it solve the crisis.

The Rohingya in India live mainly in Jammu, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi in the north, Hyderabad in the south, and Rajasthan in the west.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, drew extensive condemnation in April when it threatened to launch an “identify and kill movement” if the government did not deport Rohingya settlers there. Surprisingly, JCCI president Rakesh Gupta said that since the Rohingyas were “criminals, drug peddlers and future terrorists”, there was no harm in killing them. Though Gupta later withdrew his statement, he has given the government an ultimatum to deport the Rohingyas from Jammu.

Credit: Reuters

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