The Supreme Court Thursday rejected the plea to stop the deportation of seven Rohingya immigrants to Myanmar from Assam. The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected the plea saying that the seven were found as illegal immigrants by the court earlier and that Myanmar is also ready to accept them as their nationals. “We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken,” the apex court said.
In a first, the seven immigrants who were lodged in Assam’s jail since 2012, will be handed over to the Myanmar authorities in Moreh border post in Manipur today. Consular access had been given to Myanmar diplomats, who confirmed the identity of the immigrants, an official said. The nationality of the immigrants was confirmed after the Myanmar government verified their addresses in Rakhine State, another official said, reported PTI.
The plea filed by two Rohingya immigrants challenged the Centre’s decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination and violence against the community. The fresh plea said that the decision to deport was in “grave violation” of India’s international obligation and moreover, the situation in Myanmar was extremely dangerous for the Rohingyas to return and they are likely to be subjected to torture and even killed.
Arguing for the petitioners, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan said it was the responsibility of the court to protect the Rohingya. He alleged that the worst kind of genocide has taken place in Myanmar in which over 10,000 people were killed. Bhushan further argued that due to the “genocide”, people were killed and their properties destroyed and several lakhs of Rohingyas migrated to Bangladesh and India. “They are not illegal migrants, but refugees. The court should direct sending UN High Commissioner or his representative to talk to the seven Rohingyas so that they are not deported under any kind of duress,” he said.
Bhushan said it is a matter of life and it is the court’s responsibility to see that the lives of Rohingyas are protected. The bench comprising of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said, “You don’t need to remind us of our responsibilities. We very well understand our responsibilities”.
India’s decision to send back the seven immigrants has drawn criticism from the United Nations. “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,” the UN’s Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume, said in a statement.
Those to be deported are Md Jamal, Mohbul Khan, Jamal Hussain, Md Yonus, Sabir Ahmed, Rahim Uddin and Md Salam and are in the age bracket of 26-32 years, a Cachar district official said.