Centre backtracks on relocation of Rohingyas; VHP says they are ‘infiltrators’
There are 250 flats in outer Delhi’s Bakkarwala village and all 1,100 Rohingyas living in Madanpur Khadar camps will be shifted there, NDMC officials said
Barely hours after Union minister of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Puri announced the Centre’s ‘plan’ to resettle Rohingya refugees in Delhi, the ministry of home affairs on Wednesday clarified that it has not issued any such directive to provide economically weaker section (EWS) flats to the “illegal foreigners”.
“With respect to news reports in certain sections of media regarding Rohingya illegal foreigners, it is clarified that Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has not given any directions to provide EWS flats to Rohingya illegal migrants at Bakkarwala in New Delhi,” the MHA said in a series of posts on Twitter.
Elaborating on the development, the home ministry said they had directed the government of the national capital territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to relocate the refugees to a “detention centre” till their deportation processes are complete.
“Govt of Delhi proposed to shift the Rohingyas to a new location. MHA has directed the GNCTD to ensure that the Rohingya illegal foreigners will continue at the present location as MHA has already taken up the matter of their deportation with the concerned country through MEA. Illegal foreigners are to be kept in 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 MHA added.
Puri had earlier in the day said the Centre planned to resettle around 1,100 Rohingyas, currently living in tents in Madanpur Khadar area of the national capital, to flats with basic facilities and round-the-clock security in another part of Delhi.
“India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision, all Rohingya refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs and round-the-clock Delhi Police protection,” Puri announced in his tweet. “India respects and follows the United Nations refugee convention 1951 and provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed.”
The Centre reportedly asked Delhi chief secretary Naresh Kumar to firm up the modalities, following which the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) was instructed to prepare its vacant flats meant for the EWS in outer Delhi’s Bakkarwala village to accommodate the refugees.
There are 250 flats in the village and all 1,100 Rohingyas living in Madanpur Khadar camps will be shifted there, NDMC officials had said prior to the MHA’s clarification.
The NDMC comes under the direct purview of the central government.
Puri’s announcement spiralled into a political slugfest, with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government opposing the move by saying that the people of Delhi will reject the proposal.
Senior Delhi government officials said the move was not decided by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“A big conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to toy with the country’s security has now been exposed. With this, the BJP has admitted their hand in settling thousands of Rohingyas in Delhi. Now they are preparing to give them pucca houses and shops. The people of Delhi will not allow this to happen at all. The BJP let the Rohingyas enter India, and now they are only helping them settle down to pat their own backs,” AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
Puri’s comment also drew sharp criticism from right-wing organisation, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), with its president Alok Kumar stating on Wednesday that Union home minister Amit Shah had said in Parliament that Rohingyas will never be accepted as refugees.
“We are shocked to see a statement of the Union Minister for Urban Development Hardeep Puri, terming the Rohingyas as refugees and allotting to them the EWS flats in Bakkarwala, Delhi. We might remind him that the statement made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament on 10.12.2020 declaring that Rohingyas will never be accepted in India (Rohingya ko kabhi bhi sweekar nahi kiya jaega),” read a statement by VHP.
VHP chief Alok Kumar said that the Rohingyas were infiltrators.
“Rohingyas are not refugees but infiltrators had been the consistent stand of the Union of India including in its affidavit filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The fact that the Hindu refugees from Pakistan continue to live in abysmal sub-human conditions in Majnu-ka-Tila area of Delhi makes the bounty proposed to be conferred on the Rohingyas all the more deplorable,” Kumar said.
The VHP also urged the central government to reconsider the issue.
“Instead of providing the Rohingyas with housing, make arrangements to send them back and out of India,” the statement added.