The Rohingyas are illegal immigrants and not refugees who have applied for asylum in India, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.
Addressing a seminar organised by the National Human Rights Commission, Singh asked why some people were objecting to the deportation of Rohingyas when Myanmar was ready to accept them.
“The Rohingyas are not refugees. They have not come here after following proper procedures. No Rohingya has applied for asylum. They are illegal immigrants,” he said.
Rohingyas are minority Muslims in western Myanmar and have been fleeing their homes following an army crackdown on their villages that has left hundreds dead.
The home minister also said that India would not violate any international law by deporting Rohingyas as it was not a signatory to the UN Refugees Convention 1951.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, described by the United Nations as the most persecuted minority in the world, fled their homes in Rakhine state recently to escape a military crackdown. It seemed a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said.
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”.
The Indian government told Parliament on August 9 that more than 14,000 Rohingyas, registered with the UNHCR, are at present staying in India. However, aid agencies estimate that there are about 40,000 Rohingya Muslims in the country.
The NHRC recently issued a notice to the Centre over its plan to deport Rohingyas, who are residing in various parts of India.
According to the Commission, from the human rights angle its “intervention is appropriate” in the matter.
Image: An exhausted Rohingya refugee girl cries as she jostles for aid. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters