Rohingya issue: Centre files affidavit in Supreme Court

It says the Rohingya illegal immigrants pose a serious threat to national security, as many of them have links to terror organisations and have set up illegal networks through agents and touts.

Salimullah moved the Supreme Court, asking the government to be restrained from deporting the Rohingya.

"Whatever government will do, will be in nation's interest", Hindustan Times quoted Minister of State for home affairs Kiren Rijiju as saying before the Supreme Court hearing.

"The continued stay of Rohingyas in India apart from being absolutely illegal is found to be having national security ramification and has serious security threats", the Centre said. Over 40,000 of those Rohingyas, who fled Myanmar, have entered India illegally, according to government's estimate. Referring to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, which states that refugees not be returned, and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1967, the Centre said, "Since India is not a party to (either). the obligations contained therein are not applicable to India".

The Centre added the large influx was concomitant to growth in stridency of Rohingya militancy that could further destabilise the fragile northeastern corridor of India.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has told the lawyers arguing for the petitioners that "the court will only go by law" and that the petitioners must now go through the affidavit filed by the government now. "That the provisions of Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1967 can not be relied upon by the petitioner since India is not a signatory of either of them".

Deportation would also be in contradiction with the principle of non-refoulement that prohibits deportation of refugees to a country where they face threat to their life and has been recognized under customary worldwide law.

"There is a serious potential and possibility of eruption of violence by the radicalized Rohingyas against Buddhists in India", it told the court, which sought the response of the government in the wake of petition by two Rohingya Muslims challenging deportation by India. The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya to be economic migrants from Bangladesh.

"The organised Rohingya Muslim influx started in 2012 and their number is around 40000 now", Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench.

The stateless Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar for decades.

Around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims are believed to have settled in India, including 16,000 who are registered with the UN's refugee agency.

The Supreme Court has scheduled the next hearing in the matter for October 3.

  • Tracy Klein