Not a single FIR for endangering national security has been filed against any Rohingya immigrant so far, two petitioners from the community submitted before the Supreme Court on Friday in response to the Centre’s claim that Rohingyas were a security threat.
In a rejoinder petition to the Centre’s September 18 affidavit, the two Rohingya immigrants said they are “not mere illegal migrants” because they fled Myanmar amid severe repression and genocide. This entitles them to protection under several international conventions India has signed and ratified, including those based on the principle of non-refoulement.
According to this principle, no asylum seeker can be sent back to a country where their “life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.
Mohammad Salimullah and Shaqir, whose plea was filed by senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, said they were claiming the rights to equality and life under Article 14 and 21, respectively, of the Indian Constitution, which apply to all citizens and non-citizens.
The petitioners called the deportation order “totally arbitrary and discriminatory”, and said if summarily deported to Myanmar they will be subjected to torture and even death.
They also called discriminatory a 2015 government notification that did not include Muslims in a list of those who could enter India in fear of religious persecution in their countries. Several Hindu Rohingyas are also victims of the same persecution in Myanmar, they said.
The Supreme Court has scheduled the next hearing in the matter for October 3.
‘Links with terror groups’
In an affidavit filed in the top court on Monday, the Centre had said inputs from security agencies indicated that some Rohingya Muslim refugees in India had links with terror groups based in Pakistan. The government claimed that the continued illegal immigration of Rohingyas to India has “serious national security ramifications and threats”.
In August, the government had announced that it was planning to deport all the estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees living in India. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had said they were illegal immigrants, even those registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The UN has criticised the decision, which was made even as the Rohingya crisis worsened in Myanmar.