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Are Rohingyas really a threat to national security?

16 September 2017, 01:10 | Darnell Patrick

Are Rohingyas really a threat to national security?

A Rohingya Muslim woman who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh serves dinner to her son inside their temporary shelter at Taiy Khali refugee camp in Bangladesh Saturday Sept. 16 2017. United Nations agencies say an estimated 409,000 Rohingya

The Home Ministry has submitted an eight-page affidavit to the Supreme Court today, demanding that Rohingya Muslims can not be allowed to stay back in India and must be deported back to where they came from.

The Indian government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that Rohingya refugees were "a threat to national security", pushing back against the condemnation of its plans to deport them.

Rohingyas are the immigrants from Myanmar who have entered the territories of India as refugees seeking safety and shelter after being thrown out from their country.

An affidavit on the issue, which the government later said was just a draft and being worked upon, was leaked after it was inadvertently served on the counsel for petitioner Muhammad Salimullah. Based on several assessments made by intelligence agencies, the government reached a conclusion that Rohingyas could be a security threat as they are vulnerable to be recruited by terror groups.

Some groups allied to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party have stepped up calls for Rohingyas to leave, and Modi said last week that India shared Myanmar's concerns about "extremist violence" in Rakhine state.

The Rohingya refugee debate is far from over in India as the government continued to make a strong pitch for their deportation.

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"It is found that continuity of Rohingya immigration and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, has serious national security ramifications and it will have a very serious adverse impact on the fundamental rights of Indian citizens to share the natural resources of the country", the affidavit states. "It undermines India's security", he added.

Nobody wants to stay as a refugee, the minister of state for external affairs said.

"MHA has not filed any affidavit on Rohingyas in SC". It said Rohingyas couldn't claim protection under Article 21 of the Constitution to settle as residents of India and the Union Government has unrestrictive power to expel or deport Rohingyas.

On a moral plane, the Indian government can hardly hope to defend its stand given the fact that the Rohingya face an imminent threat to their lives in the wake of the ongoing "ethnic-cleansing" drives in the Rakhine State, Myanmar.

Analysts said India can not avoid taking a strong stand on a humanitarian cause if it wants to be taken seriously as a candidate for a seat in the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, both India and China are "competing for Myanmar's attention", Rossow, who is also Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the CSIS, said. He said that it is in the process of being finalised.



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