Activists alarmed after India deports Rohingya woman and detains 25 others in Kashmir

Rohingya men were sent to detention centre in Hiranagar, where several others are being held

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 04 April 2022 12:44 BST
File: Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis explained

The deportation of a Rohingya Muslim woman and the detention of 25 other people in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir has drawn condemnation from activists and rights organisations.

Hasina Begum, 36, who was detained on 6 March 2021 as a part of the verification process, was deported to Myanmar a year later on Friday. Ms Begum, her husband and their three children are registered as refugees with the United Nations rights body.

At least 25 Rohingya men, who were part of the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement, were detained from Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir, and sent to a detention centre in Hiranagar, where several others are being held.

Indian authorities have reportedly deported 12 Rohingyas to Myanmar since 2018, stating they left voluntarily for the Buddhist-dominated nation.

Last March, 169 Rohingya migrants were sent to “holding centres”, in a process that would pave the way for their deportation. The police claimed that around 5,000 Rohingya Muslims have taken refuge in Jammu in the past few years.

Rights group Amnesty International called the detention an “abject dereliction of India’s human rights obligations and an egregious violation of international law”.

“Indian authorities are well aware of the human rights violations Rohingya Muslims have had to face in Myanmar and it is outrageous to abandon them to their fates,” the group said in a statement, pointing out that India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Over one million Rohingya have fled the violent persecution in Myanmar and have sought refuge in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya have taken refuge in India, mostly in the southern part of the country, while fewer than 15,000 are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

A young Rohingya boy stands outside a tent at a refugee camp alongside the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi on 1 July (AP)

India’s clampdown on the asylum seekers comes days after the United States declared that the Myanmar military committed genocide against the Rohingya minority. US secretary of state Anthony Blinken called the attacks against the community “widespread and systematic”.

The Narendra Modi administration in India considers the presence of Rohingya migrants in the country a “threat to national security”.

“The Indian government gains nothing by forcibly returning a Rohingya woman to Myanmar, while she is separated from her children and put at grave risk,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government’s decision to expel Rohingya refugees despite mountains of evidence that their lives and freedoms would be at risk in Myanmar shows cruel disregard for human life and international law,” she added.

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