India sees threat from Rohingyas' terror links

The Centre has made a decision to file its affidavit on the issue of deportation of illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants in the Supreme Court on Monday. Asked about the politics over the Rohingya refugees, a persecuted community of Muslims from Myanmar who have fled the country in large numbers, the Home Minister said: "Whatever affidavit we have to file, we will file on September 18".

The Indian government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that Rohingya refugees were "a threat to national security", pushing back against the condemnation of its plans to deport them.

Rijiju said it was a "calibrated design" to tarnish the country's image as UNHCR chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein flayed attempts by India to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar.

The government has said it is still finalising a written submission it will present to the Supreme Court next Monday, a draft of which was circulated today and reported in the media.

The affidavit filed on behalf on central government in the top court described Rohingyas as a major threat to the national security, as they are "likely to be used by ISIS" and other transnational extremist outfits to carry out attacks on the Indian soil.

On Thursday, a senior lawyer representing India's government told the supreme court that "the state considers that Rohingyas are a threat to national security".

The choice of the expression - "illegal immigrants" over "refugees" - by Rijiju appears deliberate and also in sync with the BJP's long-held ideological stance on immigrants: They are illegal immigrants if Muslims and refugees when Hindus. "It (such statements) undermines India's security".

The Foreigners' Division of Ministry of Home Affairs, in the affidavit, claims the Rohingya refugees now lodged in Delhi, Jammu, Mewat and Hyderabad are vulnerable to be recruited for terror activities. The affidavit read that the Centre had received contemporaneous inputs saying that the some of the Rohingyas were linked with the Pakistan- and Bangladesh-based terror organisations. At the same time, both India and China are "competing for Myanmar's attention", Rossow, who is also Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the CSIS, said. The duo also stated that they were registered as refugees under the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) and have challenged any possible move to deport them on the grounds that it violated worldwide human rights conventions and some other issues. Detection and deportation of such illegal immigrants from Myanmar's violence-hit Rakhine state is a continuous process, the Centre said. It said Rohingyas couldn't claim protection under Article 21 of the Constitution to settle as residents of India and the Union Government has unrestrictive power to expel or deport Rohingyas.

  • Jack Mann