The Centre on Monday said that all the estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees living in India are illegal immigrants and will be deported, Reuters reported. The government said that even those registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees would be deported.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the UNHCR registration was irrelevant. “They [UNHCR] are doing it,” Rijiju said. “We cannot stop them from registering [the Rohingyas]. But we are not a signatory to the accord on refugees,” he said. “As far as we are concerned they are all illegal immigrants. They have no basis to live here. Anybody who is an illegal migrant will be deported.” The UNHCR has issued identity cards to about 16,500 Rohingya in India.

The UNHCR’s India office said on Monday that the principle of not sending back refugees to a place where they face danger - in this case Myanmar - was a part of international law. The UNHCR said the principle was binding on all nations, even those which had not signed the Refugee Convention.

However, the organisation said it had not received any reports that Rohingya were being deported from India.