Rajnath said Rohingyas are not refugees but illegal migrants. Not violating any international law by deporting Rohingyas back because India not signatory to UN convention, he said.
Coming down heavily on human rights defenders batting for Rohingya Muslims, including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the Rohingya were not refugees but illegal immigrants and reiterated that they would be deported.
Asserting that India, as a sovereign nation, was free to take action against illegal immigrants, Singh said, “The issue of deportation of Rohingya is not a matter of ego and confrontation for India, but one of principles.”
Singh questioned the motive of those opposing the government’s move to deport the Rohingya and asked, “When Myanmar has no problem in taking them back, why are some people (in India) objecting to their deportation?”
Interestingly, the minister was speaking at a seminar themed on good governance, development and human rights organised by the NHRC, where its chairman and former CJI H L Dattu and other members of the rights body were present. Singh’s reaction came three days after the NHRC approached the Supreme Court opposing the government’s stand on deporting 40,000 Rohingya, who, it said, were illegally living in India and were a threat to national security.
“Some people these days are talking about the rights of Rohingya, who have entered our country illegally. They have termed the deportation referring to the ‘non-refoulement principle’. But I want to tell them that the non-refoulement principle is applicable to those who take asylum. No Rohingya has got asylum in India nor have they applied for it. That is why we should not commit the mistake of according the status of refugees to illegal immigrants in the name of human rights,” Singh said.
The non-refoulement principle forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution.
In his strongly worded speech, Singh also said, “Those who, in the name of human rights, are expressing concern on the rights of others should bother first for the rights of Indian citizens. They (Indians) have first right on the country’s resources and not illegal migrants.” Explaining why Rohingyas were illegal immigrants, Singh said “none of them have followed the process required to get (political) asylum and nobody has ever applied either”.
Earlier, speaking at the function, Justice Dattu said the universality of human rights, their focus on human dignity and their concern for accountability made human rights uniquely appropriate for reshaping notions of development, cooperation, good governance and combating discrimination and exclusion to reach the goal of achieving a society where ‘human rights for all’ becomes a reality.