NEW DELHI: The Government of India on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court’s stating that Rohingya Muslims were illegal immigrants in the country whose continuous presence in India could pose “serious national security ramifications”.
The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal lodged on behalf of Rohingyas against the deportation plan proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.
On Monday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that Rohingya refugees were a threat to national security of India and that “many of the Rohingya refugees” are suspect of links with Pakistan’s ISI, the Islamic State (ISIS) group and other extremist outfits targeting India.
The affidavit said that the fundamental right to reside in any part of the country is available to citizens only and illegal refugees cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to claim the right:
“As is evident from the constitutional guarantee flowing from Article 19 of the Constitution, the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India as well as the right to move freely throughout the territory of India is available only to the citizens of India… No illegal immigrant can pray for a writ of this Court which directly or indirectly confers the fundamental rights in general…,” the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
“It is submitted that continuance of Rohingyas’ illegal immigration into India and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, is found to be having serious national security ramifications and has serious security threats,” the affidavit reads. Reinforcing Modi government’s belief that the Rohingya refugees posed a grave security threat.
Senior home ministry official Mukesh Mittal said the Indian government would privately show the court material gathered from “sensitive investigations” to substantiate the claims in its affidavit.
According to a report in DNA, the Home Ministry has catalogued evidence of Rohingyas’ links of ‘Pakistan-based terror groups’.
The report ‘lists incidents to establish links between stateless Rohingya and terrorist organisations in Pakistan and others global groups like Al-Qaida’, DNA reports.
The news daily report also stated sources saying that ‘Pakistan’s deep state had an interest in keeping Rakhine province on the boil to foil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Act East Policy’.
The confidential dossier also mentions an IED blast that took place on May 4 at Buthidaung Township in Rakhine, Myanmar. The investigation into the case had revealed that two of the four people killed while assembling the explosive were Pakistani nationals and the remaining two were local Rohingyas.
“The incident shows how deep Pakistan-based terror groups have taken roots in the region,” intelligence sources told DNA.
The Union Home Ministry, in an affidavit on Monday, had told the SC that the influx of the Rohingyas in India began in 2012-13.
“Illegal influx of Rohingya, in significant numbers, started into India (sic) since 2012-13,” the ministry writes in its 15-page affidavit.
The ministry also noted that some of these ‘illegal immigrants are involved in criminal activities, including illegally obtaining Indian identification documents and fake currency’.
The Centre said that since India is not a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, the obligations concerned to non-refoulement (prohibition on return of refugees to their country) is not applicable.
“It is submitted that this obligation is binding only in respect of the States which are parties to the Convention. Since India is not a party to the said Convention or the said Protocol, the obligations contained therein are not applicable to India,” it said.
The plea before the Supreme Court, filed by two Rohingya immigrants, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, who are registered refugees under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), claimed they had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.
The Supreme Court will next hear the matter on October 3.