New Delhi Correspondent
India on Thursday deported seven Rohingya immigrants, who have been staying in Assam state illegally, to Myanmar in the first such move against the people from Rakhine province of the neighbouring country.
The illegal immigrants, who were detained in 2012 and since then lodged in a jail in Assam’s Silchar, were handed over to Myanmar authorities at a border post in Moreh town of north eastern Indian state of Manipur, a senior official said.
Officially, however, India did not describe the seven deported as Rohingyas. “Seven Myanmarese nationals were deported today. They were handed over to the authorities of the Myanmar at Moreh border post in Manipur,” Assam’s Additional Director General of Police (Border) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said.
Consular access had been given to Myanmar diplomats, who confirmed the identity of the immigrants, Mahanta said.
The confirmation of the Myanmarese citizenship of the illegal immigrants came after the government of the neighbouring country verified their addresses in Rakhine State and all of them were given travel documents by Myanmar. This is the first time Rohingya immigrants were sent back to Myanmar from India.
Earlier on Thursday, the Indian Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch bid by one of the Rohingya refugees seeking to restrain the Indian government from deporting the seven Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Allowing the deportation of the seven Rohingya Muslims, the apex said they were found by the competent court as illegal immigrants and have been accepted by their country of origin as citizens.
“Having considered the prayer, we would not like to interfere with the decision taken. The petition is dismissed,” a top court bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph said. “Even the country of their origin has accepted them as its citizens,” it said.
The Indian government told the apex court that the seven Rohingya illegally migrated to India in 2012 and were convicted under the Foreigners Act. The seven immigrants were apprehended on July 29, 2012, for violating the Foreigners Act.
Those who were deported are Md Jamal, Mohbul Khan, Jamal Hussain, Md Yonus, Sabir Ahmed, Rahim Uddin and Md Salam and are in the age bracket of 26-32 years.
Another official said all the Rohingya immigrants were “keen” to go back to their country and thanked the Assam government for the treatment meted out to them during their incarceration.
The Indian government had informed Parliament last year that over 14,000 Rohingyas registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, stay in India. However, aid agencies estimate there are about 40,000 Rohingyas in the country.