Is it lack of compassion or discrimination behind India’s stand to deport Rohingyas?

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The matter is pending with Supreme Court, but the government of India has made its stand clear on Rohingya Muslims living in India particularly in Jammu, Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Chennai and Haryana when it filed its affidavit in the Apex court in which it said they were illegal immigrants and could pose threat to the security of the country. On September 18, the Centre said India was already saddled with a very serious problem of illegal migrants. Government promised a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that it would give intelligence inputs and other related documents in support of its claims. This time when Rohingyas are being  persecuted and facing ethnic cleansing  in their own country Myanmar, United Nations Organisation, human rights bodies and many nations are supporting the case of the Rohingya Muslims, India’s stand and insistence to deport them lack compassion and is tantamount to ignoring the world opinion on this humanitarian problem. National security is a surmounting factor and cannot be ignored but Rohingyas who have been living in India for a long time have not created any law and order problem. A country populated by more than 125 crore people can easily give shelter to 40000 people. The government argues that some of them have links with the Pak spy agency ISI and terror organizations like Al Qaeda and IS and in this connection the centre is to convince the court. Even if one were to believe the centre’s story, many thousands of deserving refugees fleeing violence cannot be denied asylum because a few, as per government, have links with rough elements. It is not a huge task to screen the Rohingyas living in India fighting poverty, hunger and squalid conditions. One communal angle that may be inferred from this stand is that the government is refusing shelter to Rohingyas because they are Muslims.

The  UN  High Commissioner for Human  Rights criticized India for its policy to deport Rohingyas and this criticism of our policy was in line with the world body’s strong condemnation of de facto leader of Myanmar Aung Saan Suu Kyi who kept mum on military’s violence against the minority community. The UNO demanded her statement and she came up with one on September 19. In her 30-minute speech delivered in English, she was careful not to put the blame on the military which is supporting her to continue as a leader. But Myanmar military was targeted by the UNO earlier as it said, ‘it was army-led ethnic cleansing’. On the calls for repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh and India Suu Kyi insincerely appeared to say that “verified” refugees may be allowed to return. The entire world is now aware that Myanmar’s verification process involves Rohingyas to show “proof” of citizenship. Rohingyas who have always been treated as ‘Bengalis’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ can never expect a fair and just “verification” by their government or military. San Suu Kyi’s failure to condemn the brutal excesses of the military received flak from all quarters with some saying her speech was ‘outright lies’ (Queen Mary University of London Academic) and ‘little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming’ (Amnesty International) and ‘shameful’ (US’s Rice University Sociologist).

It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court of India views Rohingyas in light of governments’s tag of ‘threat to national security’ to them.

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