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After Passing CAA, Centre to Focus on Deporting Rohingya Refugees: Union Minister

Speaking in Jammu, Jitendra Singh said, "They do not belong to the six (religious) minorities (who will be given citizenship under the new law)."

New Delhi: After putting in place the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Friday, the government’s next move will be to deport Rohingya refugees, as they will not be able to secure citizenship under the new law.

He demanded a probe into how the Rohingya reached and settled down in the northern-most belt of Jammu after passing through several states from West Bengal.

“The CAA has been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir the day it was passed (by parliament). There are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, by implementation (of the CAA in Jammu and Kashmir), what would happen here is that the next move would be in relation to (the deportation) of Rohingya,” Singh said at a function in Jammu.

The minister, who was addressing officers of the Jammu and Kashmir government at a three-day training programme on the general fund rules, pointed out that Jammu had a sizeable population of Rohingya refugees.

“What will be the plan of their (Rohingya refugees’) deportation, the Centre is concerned about it. Lists will be prepared. Wherever needed, biometric identity cards will be given, because the CAA does not give leverage to the Rohingya,” Singh said.

“They do not belong to the six (religious) minorities (who will be given citizenship under the new law). They do not belong to any of the three (neighbouring) countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan),” he said, adding that the Rohingya came to the country from Myanmar and hence, they would have to go back.

Also read: The Rohingya Crisis Is Another Colonial Legacy

Singh demanded a probe into the circumstances that led the Rohingya to travel such a long distance through several states from Bengal to the northern-most area of Jammu and settle here. “It is for researchers and analysts to know how they came so far from Bengal, travelling through several states. Who paid for their tickets (to Jammu from Bengal),” he said.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other right-wing organisations have demanded the deportation of the Rohingya in the past as well.

Rajnath Singh, the home minister in the first Narendra Modi government, also spoke out in favour of deportations, including in the Supreme Court.

Over the last year and a half, the Modi government has been making efforts to send Rohingya refugees settled in India back to Myanmar. As The Wire has reported before, on January 3, 2019, India deported a Rohingya Muslim family of five, which had been in the Tezpur Detention Centre in Assam since 2013, to Myanmar. This was the second such group expelled in four months, after seven men who were lodged at the Silchar Detention centre in Assam since 2012, were deported to Myanmar in October 2018.

Experts have argued that these deportations violate international law and India’s domestic obligations. Angshuman Choudhury wrote in The Wire:

“While the Indian legal system does not categorically address the issue of forced return of refugees, deporting the Rohingya back to Myanmar, where they face a severe threat of persecution, amounts to a complete violation of India’s international legal obligations and domestic judicial precedents laid down by various courts.

More importantly, deportation of the stateless Rohingya to Myanmar, where they risk being killed, tortured, and violently persecuted, is an utterly inhuman act.”

(With PTI inputs)