Indian court allows deportation of 7 Rohingya to Myanmar

Security increased around the border area in Moreh. Image courtesy Sunzu Bachaspatimayum

Security increased around the border area in Moreh. Image courtesy Sunzu Bachaspatimayum

Salimullah, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, is also the lead petitioner in a 2017 PIL that challenged the Centre's 8 August 2017 order which directed states to identify and deport illegal migrants including Rohingya refugees.

Thursday's expulsion marks the first such move by India and comes at a time when some of the country's local media have been picking on the Rohingya as troublemakers, engaged in everything from petty crime to acts of terrorism.

"We will drive them from this border point and drop them 100 kms from here, and after that it is their responsibility to go to the Rakhine state of Myanmar", Aung Myo, deputy director of immigration in Myanmar's Tamu border district told reporters during a televised press briefing.

The men are from Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine. New Delhi puts the figure at 40,000.

The Indian government plans to hand over the seven to Myanmar border guards later Thursday.

Worldwide rights groups said the deportation violates global law, and the U.N.'s refugee agency said conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine state, from where the Rohingya have fled, are not safe for their return.

The government's top lawyer, Tushar Mehta, told the court that the embassy of Myanmar was ready to give a certificate of identity to the Rohingya. While they can be found in India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and many other countries, the largest number of Rohingyas are found in Myanmar.

Myanmar has denied the charge, saying its military had launched counterinsurgency operations after attacks on security forces by Rohingya militants in August previous year.

Under increasing global pressure to allow the Rohingya refugees to return, Myanmar's government has issued publicity notices on social media purportedly showing a handful of Rohingya going back to their homes and receiving supplies from the government. "Let a United Nations officer go talk to them first. if they still want to go back, let them", Mr. Bhushan submitted. In Myanmar, Salim said he wasn't safe. "They can not be compelled to return under duress!" India is fighting insurgencies in northern Kashmir and in northeastern states.

"Pass an order restraining the Union of India from taking any steps towards the deportation of any Rohingya refugees lodged in jails or detention centres in Assam or other parts of the country in contravention of non-derogable principles of customary global law and during the pendency if the case", the plea said. He said he was deeply troubled by the news.

Achiume also raised concerns about their extended detention in India and India's failure to give the men adequate legal counsel. "Can it not see what Myanmar has done to our people in the previous year?"

United Nations officials have accused Myanmar's military of ethnic cleansing. Around 700,00 Rohingyas fled from Myanmar and illegally took shelter in the nearby countries, mostly taking refuge in the Cox Bazar of Bangladesh.

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