People from the Rohingya community living in India have been involved in illegal activities, the government told the Lok Sabha during question hour on Tuesday. “We know this, Rohingya are linked with wrong and illegal activities,” Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said. He said that there is no need for an elaboration on this count. Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena had sought to know whether the Rohingya were involved in terror activities.
The Rohingya are illegal immigrants and do not enjoy the status of “refugees”, Rijiju said responding to questions from Sawant, Jugal Kishore Sharma and Ram Swaroop Sharma (both from the BJP), Sugata Bose (Trinamool Congress) and Prabhas Kumar Singh (Biju Janata Dal). He said the maximum number of people from the community are based in Jammu and Kashmir. People from the community also live in Hyderabad, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi, he said.
There was little support for the Rohingya as the BJP and Shiv Sena members forcefully raised issues related to the community. Sugata Bose did make a pitch for sheltering them, but the Trinamool Congress group did not make any attempt to counter the ruling alliance when its members underlined some sensitive points. The entire Congress bloc chose to keep quiet, and saw this as part of a BJP strategy to bring about a Hindu-Muslim divide ahead of polls.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the BSF and Assam Rifles, guarding international borders, had been “sensitised” to ensure that such illegal migrants do not enter the country. Singh said an advisory had been sent to the states last February to identify and confine Rohingya at one place and keep them under watch. The states had been directed to collect their biometric details and share them with the Home Ministry. The MHA would then urge the Ministry of External Affairs to take up their deportation with Myanmar, it was informed.
Bose said that India had a history of sheltering refugees and the government must do the same with the Rohingya. “I am deeply saddened by the reply given by the Home Minister,” he said, seeking to know “what has happened to our country, Bharatvarsha, which has a millennia-old tradition of giving shelter to persecuted people from all over the world?” Bose pointed out that the External Affairs Ministry had, since September 2017, been conducting “Operation Insaniyat” at refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, where a large number of Rohingya refugees has arrived from Myanmar.
“Are we only going to export our insaniyat to Bangladesh? Will we not show some insaniyat inside our own country,” the TMC member asked. He also sought to know whether India was “prepared” to abide by all international laws.
Rijiju hit back, saying, “I am very surprised and saddened by the statement made by Bose. Instead of lauding the good work being done by India, he is defaming his own country.”
BJP members thumped their desks as the minister slammed Bose. Rijiju pointed out that India is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees but millions of refugees are still staying in the country. “But it does not mean that we cannot regulate our system,” he said.
Prabhas Kumar Singh wanted to know whether the government had any plan to mention the immigrants who had come to the country. Rijijju said immigrants had come in from Sri Lanka, the Tibet part of China and other countries, and India did not consider all of them illegal. There were loud protests from AIADMK, Trinamool Congress and Left members when Rijiju made a slip-up and referred to refugees from Sri Lanka as those from Tamil Nadu. The minister corrected himself immediately.
Panel studying citizenship Bill granted extension
New Delhi: A joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, examining the Citizenship Amendment Bill, was on Tuesday granted an extension for submitting its report. The committee will now be given time until the first day of the last week of the Winter Session for submitting its report. The Winter Session generally begins in November and continues until the end of the third week of December.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Bill seeks to grant citizenship to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — after six years of residence in India, instead of a wait of 12 years, even if they do not possess any proper document. The committee, headed by Rajendra Agrawal of the BJP, was constituted on August 23, 2016.