Seven suspected Rohingyas to be deported to Myanmar via Manipur outpost today
The Assam government on Wednesday sent seven Myanmar nationals from detention camp in Silchar to Imphal from where they would be deported to Myanmar before Thursday noon, a top government official said.
This will be the first such official deportation from India to Myanmar.
“The seven had left the detention camp on Wednesday morning for Manipur from where they will be sent back through a border post,” deputy commissioner of Cachar district, S Lakshmanan said.
They are widely believed to be Rohingya Muslims but no government official was willing to go on record about the ethnicity of the deportees. The Myanmar border at Moreh, is about 50 km south of Imphal. They seven had been held at the Silchar central prison in Cachar district since 2012 on charges of illegal entry.
“They are likely to be moved across the border around noon on Thursday,” said an officer of the Border Organisation of Assam Police, which deals with detection of foreigners.
The deportation came after a last ditch effort by advocate Prashant Bhushan for an urgent hearing of a PIL in the Supreme Court to restrain the government from deporting Rohingya refugees failed.
“It is a routine process. We sent back a Pakistani, an Afghani and 52 Bangladeshis recently,” said Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, additional director general, Border Organisation.
According to a state intelligence officer, there are about 32 Rohingya refugees in detention camps in Assam. At least 15 of them including seven minors are in Tezpur.
According to documents of the detention camp that HT has accessed, they are from Rakhine state in Myanmar and were apprehended in 2014 by the government railway police.
Last week, Centre had asked all states to take biometric details of Rohingya refugees and other illegal immigrants living in their jurisdiction as part of a country-wide security exercise. “The presence of Rohingya is confined not only to the northeastern states. They have reached south Indian states including Kerala,” Union home minister Rajnath Singh had recently said, calling all Rohingyas in India “illegal immigrants.”
Hundreds of minority Rohingya refugees have been killed in the northern Rakhine province of Myanmar by the military in alleged ethnic cleansing, setting of an exodus with lakhs taking shelter in camps in Bangladesh.
The UNHCR which had requested access to detained Rohingya refugees in Assam, have not been given permission by the government so far.
Ahead of the deportation, a UN human rights expert had expressed alarm at the government’s deportation plan saying returning the seven Rohingya refugeesto Myanmar could violate international law.
“Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume. “The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection.