Sunday, 17 February, 2019

'India can't become refugee capital of the world'

Rohingya Muslim Refugees case SC maintains Status Quo 'India can't become refugee capital of the world'
Kristopher Love | 01 February, 2018, 11:27

The centre doesn't want India to become the refugee capital of the world, the government's senior law officer told the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The Bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, specifically asked senior advocate Gopal Subramanium appearing for NHRC whether the Commission is in favour of refugees stopped at the border from being allowed in to which he replied, "No".

During the brief hearing, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, alleged that the BSF was pushing back hapless refugees through "inhumane and degrading treatment" and in clear violation of "the non refoulement principle of customary global law". "India will then become the refugee centre of the world", he said. "List the matters on March 7".

Bhushan, who appears for Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, the main petitioners who have challenged the Centre's decision to deport Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar, told the bench that 20 per cent of Rohingyas who were facing threats of persecution and genocide were still left in Myanmar. "We can not allow people to enter like this".

He opposed Bhushan's submission saying it was not part of the pleadings of the main case and, moreover, the central government and its forces were performing their sovereign functions.

To this, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the use of above mentioned weapons to thwart the infiltration bids of Rohingya immigrants is "justified". The court should permit it to discharge constitutional functions. He pointed out that the Centre has a policy to welcome Hindu, Sikh and others, except Muslims, from other countries to India.

"There is no government intervention to provide shelter and other basic amenities". In reference to the poor state of Rohingya refugee camps in India he said, "The conditions are inhuman, and there is no access to either schools or hospitals".

The refugee crisis, although underway since 2011, intensified in July previous year after Myanmar Army's posts were reportedly attacked by members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army - the local insurgent unit affiliated to the al-Qaeda.

Responding to this poser, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, an intervenor, said: "Somebody comes to your border and says "I am a refugee".

An estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims, including the petitioners, live in India and are registered with the United Nations refugee agency in India.

The petition was filed by two Rohingya Muslims-Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir-who are now living in India. The court could not intervene in the matter at present as there was no contingency.

The court had suggested to the Centre not to deport these refugees, but the Centre had urged that it should not be written in the order as anything coming on record would have global ramifications. In the retaliatory action by the forces, scores of Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee from Rakhine.