New Delhi: India is all set to deport seven Rohingya immigrants, who have been staying in Assam illegally, to their Myanmar on Thursday. This is the first such step taken in this regard. The immigrants were under detention in Cachar Central Jail in Silchar district of Assam since 2012, when they were detained by police. 

They will be handed over to Myanmar authorities at Moreh border post in Manipur Thursday, a Home Ministry official said.

The seven immigrants were apprehended on July 29, 2012, for violating the Foreigners Act. Those to be deported are Md Jamal, Mohbul Khan, Jamal Hussain, Md Yonus, Sabir Ahmed, Rahim Uddin and Md Salam and are in the age bracket of 26-32 years, a Cachar district official said.

Consular access had been given to Myanmar diplomats, who confirmed the identity of the immigrants, the official said. Another official said the confirmation of the Myanmarese citizenship of the illegal immigrants came after the government of the neighbouring country verified their addresses in Rakhine State. This is for the first time Rohingya immigrants would be sent back to Myanmar from India.

In Guwahati, Assam Additional Director General of Police (Border) Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta said deportation of foreign nationals have been going on for sometime and earlier in the year “we have deported several Bangladeshi, Myanmarese and Pakistani nationals”. 

SC refuses to intervene

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the decision to deport seven Rohingyas to Myanmar. A bench  comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said that the seven were were found to be as illegal immigrants and have been accepted by their country of origin as citizens. “Having considered the prayer, we would not like to interfere with the decision taken. The petition is dismissed," the bench said.

The Centre told the apex court that the seven Rohingyas illegally migrated to India in 2012 and were convicted under the Foreigners Act. The Centre also informed the court that Myanmar has issued a certificate of identity to the seven Rohingyas along with one month visa to facilitate their deportation.
Earlier, a PIL was filed by two Rohingya immigrants -- Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir -- challenging the Centre's decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India after escaping from Myanmar due to alleged widespread discrimination and violence against the community. In a fresh plea, advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the applicant, said Myanmar government had earlier refused to accept these Rohingyas as their citizens.
He alleged that a worst kind of genocide has taken place in Myanmar in which over 10,000 people were killed.

UN says no to deportation

Criticising the move, two United Nations bodies urged the Indian government to refrain from doing anything that would endanger the lives of those it plans to deport.

“UN High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed its view that the current conditions in Rakhine State in Myanmar are not conducive for safe, dignified and sustainable return for Rohingya,” a UNHCR spokesperson told The Hindu,calling on India to reconsider its decision and “refrain from measures that could directly or indirectly lead to the return of a person to a country where his or her life or freedom would be in danger.”

In a statement, Tendayi Achiume, High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, said: “The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection.”

The Indian government had informed Parliament last year that over 14,000 Rohingya people, registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, stay in India. However, aid agencies estimate there are about 40,000 Rohingya people in the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, described by the UN as the most persecuted minority in the world, fled their homes last year to escape an alleged crackdown by the Myanmarese military. Human rights group Amnesty International has blamed Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s government for “burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State”.

(With agency inputs)