‘If not AAP or Centre...’: Sisodia writes to Amit Shah on Rohingyas row

Updated on Aug 18, 2022 05:33 PM IST

Hardeep Singh Puri in a tweet on Wednesday morning referred to a story by news agency ANI that said 1,100 refugees would be resettled in the flats from their accommodation in tents

Deputy CM said the Delhi government was clueless over developments in the Rohingyas reported resettlement. (File image)
Deputy CM said the Delhi government was clueless over developments in the Rohingyas reported resettlement. (File image)

Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday wrote to union home minister Amit Shah urging him to clarify the Centre’s stand on Rohingya refugees in the national Capital and sought action against officials in the central and Delhi government for “secretly planning” to shift them to flats in outer Delhi locality.

Sisodia also addressed a press conference on Thursday to clarify that neither Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal nor Sisodia himself, as the home minister, had any knowledge of the proposal that was initially posted on Twitter by union housing minister Hardeep Singh Puri and later rebutted by the Centre.

Also Read: Who took the decision, asks Sisodia amid row over resettling Rohingyas in Delhi

“Who took the decision on the resettlement of the Rohingyas in Delhi’s EWS flats if it was not the Centre? I want to make it clear that the Delhi government had no involvement in this. The AAP government’s stand on the matter is clear - we are strictly against providing any temporary or permanent accommodation to Rohingya refugees in Delhi. So, if we didn’t decide and the Centre also claims it didn’t issue any direction on the same, then who took the decision? Amit Shah should order a probe to ascertain on whose instructions the decision to shift Rohingya refugees to flats was taken,” Sisodia said.

Puri in a tweet on Wednesday morning referred to a story by news agency ANI that said 1,100 refugees would be resettled in the flats from their accommodation in tents.

His tweets immediately triggered a political controversy with the Delhi government hitting out at the Centre, saying it was not consulted and the move will mean a “security risk” from illegal migrants.

Shortly after Puri’s tweet, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) clarified in a statement, “With respect to news reports in certain sections of media regarding Rohingya illegal foreigners, it is clarified that the MHA has not given any directions to provide EWS (economically weaker section) flats to Rohingya illegal migrants at Bakkarwala in New Delhi.”

Puri, who first tweeted in the morning, said later in the evening, “Home ministry’s press release with respect to the issue of Rohingya illegal foreigners gives out the correct position.”

On Thursday, Sisodia said that the political executive of the Delhi government got to know only through newspapers that a scheme to provide flats to Rohingyas is going on.

“I asked the officers of the home department and got to know some meetings did take place where central government officers and the Delhi police were present. When I asked for details of the meeting, I saw that it was mentioned in the files that for the approval by the Centre, it was being directly sent to the Lieutenant Governor through the chief secretary. It was completely hidden from the elected government of Delhi. Was this a conspiracy? Who all are being this conspiracy? The Centre should probe the matter because it is a massive breach of security,” Sisodia said.

The MHA appeared to scrap the move on Wednesday.

“Illegal foreigners are to be kept in the detention centre till their deportation as per law. The Government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a detention centre. They have been directed to do the same immediately,” the ministry statement said.

Reporters asked Sisodia about whether according to the MHA’s statement on Wednesday, the Delhi government would declare the existing temporary shelters of Rohingya refugees in Madanpur Khadar as a “detention centre”, Sisodia said, “How can we declare a place a detention centre without knowing about the Centre’s stand. Delhi police will have to do inceptions and let us know. So, the Centre has to first make it clear to the Delhi government what exactly the plan is. Since yesterday, it is the Centre which has created confusions by saying something and then making a U-turn,” he said.

The controversy stems from what seemed to be an attempt to resettle some of the refugees temporarily.

According to the minutes of a meeting chaired by chief secretary Naresh Kumar on July 29, a decision was taken by the home department to shift the refugees to a tenement for poor families in Bakkarwala area in outer Delhi. HT has seen a copy of the minutes.

“FRRO, Delhi was directed to take over the EWS Flats at Bakkarwala, Delhi for the purpose of creation of detention center and complete the procedure and other codal formalities immediately after handing and taking over of EWS flats at Bakkarwala, Delhi from NDMC in coordination with the Delhi Police and Home Department, GNCT of Delhi for setting up detention center. This process shall be completed by August 2022,” read the document, a copy of which was seen by HT.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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