Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said the government has set up a task force in various states to identify and deport Rohingya Muslims, The Times of India reported. He added that “Rohingyas are illegal immigrants and need to be deported as per law”.

The minister said human rights organisations must stop preaching to India. “I want to tell the international organisations whether the Rohingyas are registered under the United Nations Human Rights Commission or not...They are illegal immigrants in India,” Rijiju was quoted as saying by PTI.

India, which has absorbed many refugees, should not be told how to deal with refugees, he added. “We are following the legal path then why have we been accused of being inhuman?”

His statements come when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a three-day visit to Myanmar, where Rohingyas are facing persecution. Their condition is likely to figure in Modi’s talks with Myanmar’s de-facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday. Suu Kyi has been criticised for failing to stand up for more than 1 million stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.

On Tuesday, countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia had urged Suu Kyi to stop the violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine state. So far, at least 1.25 lakh Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh.

The exodus began after Rohingya militants allegedly attacked police posts in the restive Rakhine state on August 25. They had targeted 30 police sites at an Army base in a coordinated strike. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army had claimed responsibility for the attack. Violence has been rife in the region, with clashes between Muslim and Buddhist communities.

The Myanmar military had said on September 1 that nearly 400 people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, had died in the violence that ensued. Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar.

Rohingyas in India

A plea challenging the government’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar is in the Supreme Court. The petition, filed by two Rohingya Muslims, said they were facing persecution in Myanmar and sending them back was in violation of various international conventions.

On August 18, India’s National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the Home Affairs Ministry over its decision. The commission had said that as per the Constitution of India, the Right to Life and Personal Liberty applies to all – irrespective of their citizenship. A day earlier, the Human Rights Watch had urged New Delhi to “abide by its international legal obligations” and not forcibly deport Rohingyas.

Around 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees live in India across Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Delhi.