The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has categorically denied reports regarding the rehabilitation of Rohingya Muslims to government flats in Delhi. Contradicting its own minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s claims, the ministry said on Wednesday that it has not given any directions to provide the EWS (Economic Weaker Section) flats to illegal Rohingya migrants in Delhi’s Bakkarwala area. The statement came hours after Puri claimed that the central government had decided to shift Rohingya Muslims to the flats.
The Home Ministry further said that it is the Delhi UT government that proposed to shift Rohingya Muslims to a “new location”.
“Govt of Delhi proposed to shift the Rohingyas to a new location. MHA has directed the GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi) to ensure that the Rohingya illegal foreigners will continue at the present location as MHA has already taken up the matter of their deportation with the concerned country through MEA,” tweeted the ministry.
The office of Union Home Minister Amit Shah also slammed the Delhi government for not declaring the present location as a ‘Detention Centre’, and directed it to do the same immediately. The ministry informed that all illegal foreigners are to be kept in a Detention Centre till their deportation, as per Indian law.
The outrage sparked soon after Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet that the central government has decided to shift Rohingya refugees to government EWS flats in West Delhi’s Bakkarwala area, with basic amenities and police protection.
“India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision all #Rohingya #Refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs & round-the-clock @DelhiPolice protection,” said Puri in his tweet.
Citing the 1951 UN Refugee Convention in his tweet, Puri further tweeted, “Those who made a career out of spreading canards on India’s refugee policy deliberately linking it to CAA will be disappointed. India respects and follows UN Refugee Convention 1951 and provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed.”
Initial reports had suggested that the move to shift Rohingyas to EWS flats was taken at a high-level meeting last week, chaired by the Chief Secretary of the Delhi government, and was attended by senior officials of the GNCTD, Delhi Police and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Reportedly, during the meeting, Delhi Police was instructed to provide “round the clock” security at the new Rohingya premises. It has also been noted that the Delhi government asked to ensure provisions of basic amenities like a fan, three meals a day, a landline phone, a television, and recreational facilities at the new Rohingya locations.
The Union Home Ministry reacted after people on social media started expressing their extreme indignation toward the Modi government. Critics said that the Centre is giving priority to Rohingya Muslims instead of the Kashmir Pandits and Pakistani Hindus living in different parts of the country.
More than 1000 Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic minority group from Myanmar, are staying in squalid camps in Delhi – mostly in Kalindi Kunj and Madanpur Khadar in South East Delhi, for over more than a decade.
Following Puri’s statement, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP leader) and Greater Kailash MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said that the Delhi government will reject the Centre’s proposal, and will not allow this to happen at all.
“A big conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to toy with the country’s security has now been exposed. With this, the BJP has admitted their hand in settling thousands of Rohingyas in Delhi. Now they are preparing to give them pucca houses and shops. The people of Delhi will not allow this to happen at all. The BJP let the Rohingyas enter India, and now they are only helping them settle down to pat their own backs,” Saurabh Bhardwaj tweeted.
Earlier, Tathagata Roy, the former Tripura and Meghalaya governor had slammed the central government for providing flats to Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, and called it a suicidal step.
“This is INCREDIBLE Sir! Rohingiya Muslims are illegal infiltrators,not refugees,under the CAA! They are distinctly unwelcome even in Muslim-majority Bangladesh! Have we bid goodbye to all our principles? Are we about to light our own funeral pyre!,” Roy tweeted Roy.
The matter of Rohingya Muslims in India has always been one of the core issues for the BJP, particularly during poll campaigns. To garner Hindu votes, many BJP leaders often target Rohingya Muslims, and blame them as a major security concern for the country.
Rohingya Muslims In India
On August 9, 2017, the central government said that there were “around 40,000 Rohingyas living illegally in the country”, and that the government had issued detailed instructions “for the deportation of illegal foreign nationals including Rohingyas”.
While the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in India registered 23,592 refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar until December 31, 2021, there are 18,000 Rohingyas in the country, according to UNHCR India data from January 2019. As the “most persecuted minority in the world”, as described by the UN, the Rohingya are denied basic rights and face gender-based sexual violence and abuse.