Rohingya presence poses national security threat: Centre to SC

Centre on Monday submitted its affidavit in the Supreme Court on the deportation of Rohingya immigrants to Myanmar and called them a security threat to India.

The government also told the top court that deporting Rohingya refugees would be an "executive policy decision" and the Supreme Court must not interfere.

The Centre told the Supreme Court that the total number of "such illegal immigrants into our country" was more than 40,000, approximately.

"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.

It also said the government had intelligence indicating links between Rohingya refugees and Daesh (the so-called Islamic State) and other extremist groups.

More than 410,000 refugees from Myanmar have poured into Bangladesh since 25 August when attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts triggered a Myanmar army operation that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.

India has also not been a signatory of the 1951 UN Convention or the 1967 Protocol - both relating to the Status of Refugees and included in the UNHCR statute.

"There are elephants in the forest, close to the place where many Rohingya refugees are clearing forest to make huts, police official Chailau Murma said".

The matter will come up for hearing again on October 3.

The court had asked Mehta to state in an affidavit the Centre's stand on the issue, in response to a plea filed by two Rohingyas against deportation. "No illegal immigrant can pray for a writ of this Court which directly or indirectly confer the fundamental rights in general.", the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

It says the Rohingya can not use the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees since India was not a signatory to either.

Human Rights Watch urged India, the world's biggest democracy, to follow the worldwide principle of non-refoulement which prohibits sending back refugees to a place where their lives are in danger.

Meanwhile, the apex court refused a plea to issue a notice to the National Human Rights Commission, which openly backed Rohingya Muslims and said that it would argue against their deportation. NHRC had strongly supported the Rohingya Muslims.

The Rohingyas have been fleeing Myanmar for decades and the exodus has seen a marked increase over the past few months amid reports of mass killings of the ethnic minority by the Myanmar military despite appeals for calm and peace directed at Myanmar state counsellor and Nobel Peace laureate Aung Saan Suu Kyi by the worldwide community and rights activists.

Just a few days ago, India had said that it planned to deport about 40,000 Rohingyas back to Myanmar.

  • Joey Payne