India calls Rohingya refugees 'threat to national security'

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Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday hit out at those criticising the government's decision to deport Rohingyas staying illegally in the country, and said it is a "calibrated design" to "tarnish" India's image. "It (such statements) undermines India's security".

Last month, the West Bengal government had announced that it would distribute identity cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Rohingya children lodged in juvenile justice homes across the state after UNHCR officials in India wrote to the West Bengal government.

In a bluntly worded affidavit submitted in Supreme Court, the government on Thursday has made it clear that it is against staying of Rohingya Muslims as illegal refugees in India.

While granting Indian citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees, the Centre on Wednesday maintained its stand on Rohingyas that they are "illegal".

The affidavit has to be filed following a Supreme Court directive in response to a petition filed by two Rohingya immigrants, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, claiming that they had taken refuge in India following persecution against their community in Myanmar.

"This act would also be in contradiction with the principle of "Non-Refoulement", which has been widely recognised as a principle of Customary International Law", the plea said, while seeking a direction to the government not to deport them and other members of Rohingya community.

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Rohingyas are a Muslim minority of Myanmar who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and India to escape violence.

Earlier it was reported that the filed affidavit on the expulsion of Rohingyas stated that the decision to deport the Rohingyas is taken in "larger public interest and in the interest of national security".

Mohammed Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's junior foreign minister, said Saturday that India, Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, Iran and Malaysia have already sent relief and the goods are waiting in an airport in nearby Chittagong. Only about 40,000 Rohingyas are acknowledged as citizens in their country.

Minister of State (Home) Hansraj Ahir on Wednesday said that the issues of law and order would be faced if the Rohingya immigrants stay in the country permanently.

In Yangon, presidential spokesman Zaw Htay said that while Myanmar's military denied crossing into Bangladesh's airspace, the matter was being investigated.

The government's draft affidavit says there is no "violation of fundamental rights of the petitioner" in this case. "When it was told that they (Lankan refugees) are taking part in terror, what was done?"

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