National Human Rights Commission: The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports regarding the plans of the Government of India to deport about 40,000 illegal Rohingya immigrants from Myanmar, who are residing in various parts of India. It has issued a notice to the Union Home Ministry, through its Secretary, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that refugees are no doubt foreign nationals but they are human beings and before taking a big step, the Government of India has to look into every aspect of the situation, keeping the fact into focus that the members of the Rohingya community, who have crossed into the Indian borders and are residing here for long, have a fear of persecution once they are pushed back to their native country. The Commission has held that from the human rights angle, its intervention is appropriate in the matter.

The Commission has also observed that the Supreme Court of India has consistently held that the Fundamental Right enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution regarding Right to Life and Personal Liberty, applies to all, irrespective of the fact whether they are citizens of India or not. It further noted that India has been home to refugees, for centuries. It has continued to receive a large number of refugees from different countries. India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees and also the 1967 Protocol. But India is a signatory to a number of United Nations and World Conventions on Human Rights. Till today, the country has evolved a practical balance between human and humanitarian obligations on the one hand and security and national interest on the other.

According to the media reports, the Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, have settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan states of the country. A Home Ministry official has, reportedly, said that India was going ahead with plans to deport Rohingyas and is in discussions with Myanmar and Bangladesh governments on the issue.

The Government is also, reportedly, planning to set up “detention centres” for the refugees and if required “push them back” over the India-Myanmar border, if Myanmar refuses to accept the refugees back. According to the reported ‘Advisory’ issued by the Union Home Ministry, the State Governments have been told that the powers to identify and deport the foreign nationals, staying illegally in the country, have been delegated to them and that they should sensitize all law enforcement and intelligence agencies about the risk from the Rohingyas.

National Human Rights Commission

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