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Centre is changing tack on Rohingyas

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New Delhi: The Centre will file an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday to defend its plans to deport Rohingya Muslims, who are living illegally in the country, after obtaining legal advice that it may not be able to succeed in throwing them out merely on the ground that they were a threat to national security. Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday disclosed this to reporters on the side lines of a function.

The legal advice is that a draft affidavit of the home ministry, which takes the national security plea, may not be tenable in the court since there are not even a handful of incidents in which the Rohingyas can be cited as being involved in terrorist activities; hence the ministry has been told to justify deportation only on the ground of their illegal migration.

The Supreme Court had asked the government to file an affidavit on a petition filed by two Rohingya immigrants against the move to deport them to Myanmar. The plea has been filed by two Rohingyas — Mohd Salimullah and Mohd Shaqir — who are registered as “refugees” by the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR).


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They challenged their deportation on several grounds, including violation of international human rights conventions, stating that they had to flee to India from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed.

The petition was filed after the home ministry asked the state governments in July to form a task force at the district level to identify and deport all foreign nationals living illegally in the country, pointing out that illegal immigrants such as the Rohingyas pose a grave security challenge as they might be recruited by terror groups.

The government had told Parliament on August 9 that according to the available data, more than 14,000 Rohingyas, registered with the UNHCR, were staying in India. However, the lawyer appearing in the Supreme contended that there were many more staying illegally in India, may be around 40,000, with the influx continuing. These Rohingyas enter from the Bangladesh border and spread out in various locations, including Delhi and NCR, Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.