Keep out of Rohingya issue, Modi govt tells SC

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan has trashed Centre’s argument, noting that not a single FIR had been filed against a Rohingya Muslim in a terrorism case

AP/PTI Photo
AP/PTI Photo

NH Web Desk

Rohingya refugees pose a serious security threat to India as many of them have links to the Islamic State and Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Centre told Supreme Court on Monday.

The Union government also stated in an affidavit before the apex court that the decision to deport Rohingya refugees was a policy one and that the court shouldn’t be interfering in it. Further, the Centre’s petition argued that there was a “serious possibility of eruption of violence against Buddhists in India by radicalised Rohingyas.”

The Centre was responding to a petition challenging the government’s order of deporting Rohingya refugees. The petition was filed by two Rohingya Muslims on behalf of 40,000-odd refugees staying in India. Nearly 16,000 of those refugees have UNHCR cards. However, the government has been arguing that India isn’t a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and thus identifies all Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants.

Nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar, mainly for Bangladesh, since fresh bout of violence erupted on August 25. The United Nations has described the violence against Rohingya, allegedly perpetrated by the military and government-backed Buddhist militias, as a case of “ethnic cleansing.”

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing the Rohingya petitioners, denounced the government’s response as being without proof. Talking to reporters, Bhushan noted that not a single FIR had been filed in a terrorism-related case against any Rohingya refugee residing in India.

Bhushan has been arguing in SC that Articles 14 (religious equality) and Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution guarantee the safety of Rohingya refugees in India.

“India is also a signatory to four international conventions- human rights, civil and political rights, torture and enforced disappearance – that prohibit it from sending back Rohingya refugees to Myanmar,” Bhushan has been arguing.

Colin Gonsalves, another prominent lawyer representing 7,000-odd Rohingya refugees in Jammu, has noted that India was bound by the “principal of non-refoulment” to not deport Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar where they were facing political persecution.

“… the principle of non-refoulement has got elevated to the status of jus congens, or a fundamental principle of international law which cannot be abrogated. The Supreme Court has also recognised that international norms should be followed,” Gonsalves had told NH earlier this month.

The matter is next set to be heard in Supreme Court on October 3.

The Centre’s petition was published on Live, which can be seen here.

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Published: 18 Sep 2017, 9:20 PM