The Rohingya muslim deportation case was listted in the apex court and the court has given her judgement (https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-allows-deportation-of-rohingya-refugees-to-myanmar-as-per-procedure-prescribed-172302). . A counter view by an advocate from Mumbai can be read here (https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/examining-the-supreme-court-s-approach-to-rohingya-deportation-101618324727697.html). The court has given the verdict for the deportation of the Rohingyas after fulfilling due procedures. We will try to take a look at the issue with all the ramifications for a better understanding.
To have a better understanding let us start by taking a look at the rohingya issue by going through this report by BBC which published about the Rohingya muslims a year back (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41566561). Further, to get an holistic view we would also like to recommend an excellent article published in Indian Express by Christopher Jefferlot that focuses on the West Bengal Muslim population and how this complete area of north east India to WEst bengal is becoming a security threat for the nation. . (https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/minority-report-polarisation-in-the-bengal-polls-could-have-repercussions-for-the-states-politics-7275463/).
The influx of Rohingyas in the country started way back. The biggest influx entered through the North East which shares a prorus 4500 Km border with Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Bhutan. Of this, the 1,643-km Indo-Myanmar border in Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh is unfenced and ethnic communities on each side can travel visa-free 16 km inside the other country. India also has a porous border with Bangladesh, where most of the Rohingya Muslims trying to escape persecution in their home country are ending up. India’s border states in the East are therefore vulnerable to an influx of Rohingyas.
While handling a large number of refugees in itself is a problem, the possible presence of terrorists among them increases the risk. At least two Pakistan-based terror groups are reported to be working among Rohingya Muslims. A militant outfit, Aqa Mul Mujahideen, formed by a group of Rohingya Muslims is trained by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, say security experts. There is a risk also of these militants linking up with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, an extremist in the North East.
India has said no to granting asylum to Rohingyas. But there are already some 40,000 Rohingya Muslims in India, settled in Hyderabad, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. Police in Manipur have also begun a house-to-house verification in the border areas to look for illegal immigrants.
But the problem becomes more serious as Presence of illegally entered foreigners is an emotive issue in Northeast India. There are people and even NGOs set up in Mizoram and elsewhere to help and support the Rohingya’s refugees. Recently some police and others have also fled Myanmar after they were forced to fire at civilians by the Military regime of Myanmar. This has also caught the eyes of international media.
Deputy Commissioner Maria CT Zuali, a senior official in Champhai district in the Indian state of Mizoram, told Reuters news agency that she had received a letter from her counterpart in Myanmar’s Falam district requesting the return of the police officers.. The letter said that Myanmar had information about eight police officers who had crossed into India.
“In order to uphold friendly relations between the two neighbour countries, you are kindly requested to detain eight Myanmar police personnel who had arrived to Indian territories and hand-over to Myanmar,” the letter read.
Besides North East, there are many Rohingya who have come to the state of Jammu Kashmir. In march there was a lot of noise when the district administration detained around 150 of them. The Congress leader Salman Nizami questioned the government’s move. “In Jammu there are 7,690 Tibetans and 5,743 Rohingya refugees. But 155 Rohingyas were sent to holding centres. Why verification for Rohingyas only just because they are Muslims? This exposes BJP government’s Islamophobic and inhumane nature!”, he accused.
Earlier, on March 3, 2017, the then home minister Rajnath Singh had sought a report on the influx of refugees to Jammu and Samba districts after reports surfaced about fake identities being issued to the refugees.
Later on March 25, police recovered fake state subject certificates, voter ID cards, Aadhaar and ration cards from the temporary shelters of Rohingya Muslims in Jammu. Administration records list 17 FIRs against 38 Rohingyas for various offences including those related to crossing the border illegally and drug-trafficking.The central government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2017 describing around 40,000 Rohingya refugees living in India as “a security threat” and said they must be deported to Myanmar. Some security inputs have indicated links of Rohingya refugees with Pakistan’s ISI, the Islamic State and other extremists groups that want to spread communal and sectarian violence in India.
According to official estimates, around 6,500 Rohinhyas are staying there which is causing a lot of heartburn in Jammu but are welcome in Kashmir. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya have taken refuge in parts of India. Fewer than 15,000 are registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Many have settled in areas of India with large Muslim populations, including the southern city of Hyderabad, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi. Some have taken refuge in northeast India bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.
There is always a push and pull between humanitarian versus national security issues. While it is important to see the Rohingya as a humanitarian issue one cannot ignore the security threat to the country especially when we already have many other problems to deal with. Thus the supreme court decision to deport the Rohingyas after fulfilling due procedure seems to be the right verdict that will take care of both humanity and security issues. The government must make sure that all the refugees, esp the family heads and adults are rounded up for daily count and their papers are prepared timely so that they can be deported back to their parent country. India cannot afford to be hostile to whichever government is running Myanmar especially when China is quite active in this part of the world.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration as well as active civilians, NGOs and politicians must keep an eye on the developments that can become serious in the future of not handled well and timely.