Rohingya refugees pose security threat, India tells top court

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The Indian government told the Supreme Court that the “illegal” influx of Rohingyas “using the porous border between India and Myanmar” and their continued stay here was “seriously harming the national security of the country”.

Stating that security agencies had inputs “indicating linkages of some of the unauthorised Rohingya immigrants with Pakistan-based terror organisations and similar organisations”, the government asked the top court to leave the issue to the wisdom of the executive.

The government’s stand was elucidated in an affidavit, filed before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in response to a petition by two Rohingya refugees who had challenged the Centre’s proposed move to deport them.

“It is submitted that continuance of Rohingyas’ illegal immigration into India and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, is found to be having serious national security ramifications and has serious security threats,” the 15-page document, filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, said.

The affidavit stated that the “illegal influx” of Rohingyas had started from 2012-13 — the UPA II was then in power at the Centre.

It is submitted that continuance of Rohingyas’ illegal immigration into India and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, is found to be having serious national security ramifications and has serious security threats

The government said it “has contemporaneous inputs from security agencies and other authentic material indicating linkages of some of the unauthorised Rohingya immigrants with Pakistan-based terror organisations and similar organisations in other countries”.

Besides, there was also “organised influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar through agents and touts facilitating illegal immigrants/Rohingyas into India via Benapole-Haridaspur (West Bengal), Hili (West Bengal), Sonamura (Tripura), Kolkata and Guwahati,” the affidavit stated.

India was “already saddled with a very serious problem of illegal immigrants” and was trying to address that in the larger interests of the country, the government contended. “Large influx of illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries” had already caused “serious changes” in the “demographic profile of some of the bordering states” and this was “causing far-reaching complications in various contexts and is taking its toll and has a direct detrimental effect on the fundamental rights and basic human rights of the country’s own citizens,” the affidavit stated.

The Ministry affidavit said “some Rohingyas are indulging in illegal/anti-national activities, i.e. mobilisation of funds through hundi/hawala channels, procuring fake/fabricated Indian identity documents for other Rohingyas and also indulging in human trafficking” and “they are also using their illegal network for illegal entry of others into India”. “Many of them have managed to acquire fake/fraudulently obtained Indian identity documents i.e. PAN cards and voter cards,” the government said.

possibility of eruption of violence against the Buddhists who are Indian citizens who stay on Indian soil, by the radicalised Rohingyas… some of them with militant background are also found to be active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat and posed a threat to national security

Many of these illegal immigrants, the affidavit stated, also figure in the designs of ISI and ISIS who want to create communal flare-ups in the country. Rohingya militancy, it said, may further destabilise the country’s north-eastern corridor and there was also “possibility of eruption of violence against the Buddhists who are Indian citizens who stay on Indian soil, by the radicalised Rohingyas… some of them with militant background are also found to be active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat and posed a threat to national security”.

The Ministry said it would submit inputs from security agencies on illegal immigrants to the court in a sealed cover.

On the contention of the petitioners that the principle of “non-refoulement” prohibited the government from returning immigrants to a country where they faced threat of prosecution, the government contended that this was not binding on India as it was not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. Though India was a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, its scope did not extend to the principle of non-refoulement, the affidavit stated.

The government said that the Foreigners Act of 1946 “statutorily empowers” casts an obligation upon the Central government to deport a person who is an illegal immigrant”. The court will now hear the matter on October 3. The petitioners requested the court to issue notice to the NHRC so as to enable it to present its views but the court declined, saying it will first decide its own jurisdiction to examine the issue.

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