Terror links and taking away jobs: Why India is adamant on deporting Rohingyas

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The Indian government wants to deport the thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees living in India as it dubs them “illegal immigrants” who are a security threat.

In a reply to the Supreme Court on Monday, the Centre alleged that some sections of the Rohingyas had connections to Islamic State among other terrorist outfits and Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.

The government has also asked the apex court to not interfere in the matter. The court is yet to decide on whether it has jurisdiction over this particular situation.

The government’s argument came in response to a petition filed by two Rohingya refugees who challenged India’s decision to deport them back to Myanmar.

Also read: The Rohingya’s plight: A history of the ‘floating population’ in Myanmar

Currently, 16,000 Rohingyas living in India are registered with the UN while 40,000 are said to be living illegally. On Tuesday, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi offered to take back those Rohingyas who wish to come home, but only after a thorough verification process.

While the international community and the United Nations have questioned India regarding its decision, the Centre has been arguing that Rohingyas are a threat to the country’s ‘national security’.

The government has elaborated on these concerns in an affidavit:

India’s key concerns

# The Home ministry stated in the affidavit submitted to the SC that it had “contemporaneous inputs from security agencies and other authentic material” which indicate a Rohingya link to Pakistan-based terror groups and such other terrorist outfits in the South Asian region.

# The Centre also said some Rohingyas with militant background were found to be active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat, and posed serious threat to the country.

# Concerns were expressed regarding the “organised influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar through agents and touts” who are helping the Rohingyas enter India through multiple frontier states.

# The Indian government also thinks that these refugees will drain the country’s natural resources and be a burden on the overtly saturated job market. It sees the refugees as an additional burden on the resources of a country which already has a “surplus labour force”.

# The Centre has also said that if they allowed the Rohingyas to stay, Indians would become hostile to them in the long term, seeing them as outsiders taking away their resources and jobs, and that could lead to social tension as well as law and order problems.

# It was also mentioned that “radicalised” Rohingays may carry out violent acts against Indian Buddhists, since the group claims to be persecuted by Buddhists in Myanmar.

Also read: Are Rohingyas really a threat to national security?

Myanmar’s Role

In an address to the nation, Myanmar’s de facto leader and officially State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi said she condemned all human rights violations but did not acknowledge any persecution of Rohingya Muslims in her country.

She said she was committed to the “rule of law” and wanted peace for everyone. She also added that Myanmar “does not fear international scrutiny”.

Although Suu Kyi claimed that most Muslim villages in Myanmar were intact, the UN estimated that over 400,000 Rohingyas had fled to Bangladesh after the army crackdown took place in retaliation for an attack on some police posts in August.

The attack was carried out by Arakan Salvation Army which claims to fight for Rohingya interest. It has been declared a terrorist organisation in Myanmar.

Myanmar does not grant the minority community of Rohingya Muslims citizenship, deeming them as migrants from Bangladesh. The UN has declared the community as the “most persecuted” in the world.