The Centre is likely to tell the Supreme Court that the Union Home Ministry’s instructions to states and Union territories on migrant deportation is for all undocumented refugees staying in India, not just Rohingyas. The Supreme Court had sought the stand of the government on a petition challenging the ministry’s directions to deport illegal Rohingya immigrants, who are mostly Muslims, back to Myanmar.
The matter, being heard before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, is likely to be taken up on September 11 when the Centre is expected to file its reply, said officials. The home ministry, sources said, is unlikely to give any undertaking to either stop deportation of illegal migrants or dismantle the task force to identify illegal migrants, set up in states on its directions. The government may provide data on illegal migrants to support its argument before the apex court and reiterate its position that illegal migrants infringe on the rights of citizens, added officials.
According to the home ministry’s estimates, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingyas across India with highest number in Jammu and Kashmir. Of this, 11,000 are said to be registered with the UNHCR. The number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh is said to be over 2 crore, officials said. The plea before the Supreme Court, filed by Rohingyas Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, who are registered refugees under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), claimed they had taken shelter in India after escaping Myanmar where they face widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed.
“We have been providing relief and rehabilitation to refugees from Tibet, Tamilians from Sri Lanka. However, in the cases of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar, it has been noticed that they are using means to get ration cards, Aadhaar cards and voter identity cards which may lead to change in demographic pattern in the country,” a senior official said.
The Centre is also likely to argue that this is not the first time that the home ministry has taken a stand on deportation of illegal migrants. “There are longstanding instructions issued earlier by the government against illegal Bangladesh migrants,” officials added. The officials said Rohingyas who have valid documents, including the one issued by the United Nations, will not be deported. An operation by the Mayanmar military has led to an exodus of Rohingyas from the Rakhine state in that country to India and Bangladesh. Many of them, who had fled to India after the earlier spate of violence, have settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.