India meets with Bangladesh and Myanmar over deportation of Rohingya refugees

This file photo taken on May 14, 2015 shows Rohingya migrants in a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea. Photo: AFP . Christophe Archambault

The Indian government has met with Bangladesh and Myanmar over plans to deport tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees that they claim are illegally residing in the country.

Since the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have taken refuge in nearby Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India. While the majority of refugees have crossed the border and found shelter in camps in Bangladesh, over 50,000 refugees currently live in India.

But sources in New Delhi told Reuters that only about 14,000 Rohingya refugees that came to India from Myanmar are registered with the UN refugee agency. As such, the remaining 40,000 or so are liable to deportation.

While in the past India had welcomed Rohingya refugees, a rise in nationalist and anti-Islamic sentiments have prompted demands, including public protests, for their deportation.

In April, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Indian city of Jammu threatened to launch an “identify and kill” anti-Rohingya movement, claiming that Rohingya people were “possible human bombs and harborers to be used by militant organizations”. The group called the Rohingya “criminals and drug traffickers disowned by their own country,” and said they would be taking matters into their own hands should the government fail to deport them within a month’s time.

Amnesty has said that such a mass deportation on the part of the Indian government would be “unconscionable,” pointing out that “Indian authorities know very well the abuses the Rohingya community have been facing in Myanmar.”

When asked about the most recent discussion with Bangladesh and Myanmar, Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman K.S. Dhatwalia said, “These things are being discussed at diplomatic level with both [countries].”

Dhatwalia also added, “More clarity will emerge at an appropriate time.”

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