Acting on intelligence inputs, the Southern Railway has directed Railway Protection Force units to watch out for movement of a huge number of Rohingyas moving from the Northeastern states to Kerala, and hand them over to local police
People of Bharat have been watching the Rohingya issue, with due anxiety and apprehension since long. The Government of India (GOI) had also expressed its fear that the flow of Rohingyas to our country would convert Bharat into a refugee capital. Even though Bharat has been hosting lakhs of refugees from the neighbouring countries, the Rohingyas issue caught the attention of the whole country as well as the entire world when our compatriots argued for permitting them (Rohingyas) to stay in our country. Prashant Bhushan’s petition before the Supreme Court of Bharat is significant in this context.
The Court sought the GOI’s opinion on the petition. But, the Narendra Modi Government had been firmly defending its move to deport nearly 50,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees present in India. The GOI was surprised to hear the new development. Additional Solicitor General of Bharat Tushar Mehta told the bench headed by former Chief Justice Deepak Mishra “We don’t want India to become a refugee capital. If this prayer is allowed, precisely that is going to happen.”
RPF Alerts Over Movement of Rohingyas
But, alarming news has been upsetting all right-thinking people in connection with the Rohingyas. A letter of the Principal Chief Security Commissioner (PCSC), Railway Protection Force (RPF), Chennai, addressed to his colleagues, reveals that a huge number of Rohingyas travel to Kerala by train. They are coming from every corner of North-Eastern states. The letter quotes the list of the trains carrying them.
The letter says, the Rohingyas travel in groups along with their families. It asks the recipients to ‘sensitise’ the officers and staff under them about the movements of the itinerants. It warns if they are found, they have to be handed over to the police of the jurisdiction for further action. And, Action Taken Report to be sent for the perusal of the PCSC.
While Myanmar said, its forces were carrying out their legitimate duty to restore order after guerrilla attacks on security posts and an army camp in which about a dozen people were killed, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaquir, the principal petitioners who have challenged the Centre’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar, told the bench that 20 per cent of Rohingyas who were facing threats of persecution and genocide were still left in Myanmar. Justice DY Chandrachud intervened that the principle of non-refoulement prohibits the deportation of refugees to a country where they face a threat to their life or persecution. He said, “It applied only to those who are already here and not to those who are willing to come in”. It could expose the pseudo-secularist attitude of Bhushan. He pointed out that the GOI’s policy is to welcome Hindus, Sikhs and others, except Muslims, from other countries to Bharat. He wanted to stay the deportation.
Supreme Court reprimands Prashant Bhushan, Rohingya deportation begins
During the hearing of a plea filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan on October 4, a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi reprimanded Bhushan over his baseless arguments. India has started its deportation process of seven Rohingya Muslims after the Myanmar Government verified their addresses and issued them travel permits. It adds that the seven Rohingyas will be handed over to Myanmar authorities at the border crossing in Manipur’s Moreh.
An estimated 40,000 Rohingyas are living illegally in India. The Modi–led Government has time and again said that Rohingyas pose a national security threat and are spreading across India. In 2017, the Government ordered states to identify and deport Rohingyas. Last year, multiple activists including senior advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the Supreme Court against the Modi Government’s decision to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Additional Solicitor General argued that “ideally the court should not interfere in these issues. They shall be decided diplomatically at an executive level. These are policy decisions in the larger interest of the country”. On top of the security threat due to Rohingya links with Pakistan-based terror outfits and ISIS, the GOI raises fears that their presence may also gradually cause a change in the demographic profile of several states in the country.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Myanmar last year he had raised the issue of Rohingya Muslims living illegally in Bharat, with the leadership of that country. When the PM concluded the visit by paying his respects to Bahadur Shah, leader of the First Freedom Struggle of 1857, at this tomb, State Counsellor and Leader of the National League for Democracy of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi described the Rohingya crisis as the “biggest challenge we have had to face”. Since it dates back to the pre-colonial era, it was difficult to find out a solution in 18 months!
Centre Determined to Send Rohingyas Back
Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home, reiterated the government’s stand. He was responding to the comments of the Amnesty International, “I want to tell the international organisations whether the Rohingyas are registered under the UN Human Rights Commission or not. They are illegal immigrants in Bharat”.
Copy of the letter issued by Southern Railway
Rohingyas are ethnic Muslims of Myanmar living in Rakhine province in the Arakan region. They are referred to as Bengalis there due to their roots in Bangladesh. The 1982 Citizenship Law of Myanmar does not recognise them as an ethnic group hence they are practically stateless for 35 years. When the government declared a cut-off date for claiming their identity as Bengalis, they failed due to the absence of documents to prove that their ancestors lived in Myanmar.
The referenced letter from the PCSC speaks out the seriousness and significance of the situation. It underlines the fact in bold letters that the security of the country and the countrymen are of paramount importance. We cannot be the mute spectators of anti-national activities as we used to be in the past.