Guwahati: Seven Rohingya immigrants were taken from Assam to Manipur on Wednesday to be deported to their home country Myamnar on Thursday.
This is for the first time that Rohingya Muslims would be sent back to Myanmar from India. They would be deported via Moreh border post in Tengnoupal district, which is just over a kilometre from the Indo-Myanmar border.
Officials said the immigrants were held by security forces on the outskirts of Silchar in Assam in July 2012, and were kept at the detention centre since then on charges of illegal entry.
The deportation exercise is being carried out by the government despite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism flagging concerns that their ‘forcible return’ could lead to ‘refoulement’ – the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution – which is in violation of international law.
“Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement,” said Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court declined to accord urgent hearing of a plea by advocate Prashant Bhushan against the deportation of the Rohingya immigrants.
Additional SP of Cachar, Rakesh Reddy, who is monitoring the deportation exercise is accompanying the refugees to Manipur. Consular access had been granted to Myanmar government that verified the identities of the seven men.
“It is a routine exercise. I have personally spoken with Manipur DGP and exchanged necessary matter to facilitate the process,” said Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, additional director general, Border Organisation.
Sources said the Rohingya immigrants had earlier claimed they hail from Faida district in Myanmar, though there is no such district in the country.
An international report quoted a press release issued from Geneva stating that the men are from Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine state. However, Kyauktaw in northwestern Rakhine state is a predominantly Buddhist township.
Often, Rohingyas have been found to be entering India from three townships in Myanmar – Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung in Northeastern Rakhine state that borders Bangladesh.