India on Thursday deported seven Rohingya immigrants, who have been staying in Assam illegally, to their country of origin Myanmar, in a first such move with regard to the people from the Rakhine province of the neighbouring country.
The ministry said in a statement that Myanmar's government had identified the seven men as "residents" of Myanmar, and provided "Certificates of Identity to facilitate the travel of these individuals to their hometowns in Rakhine state".
India deportedseven Rohingya Muslims that had fled their native Myanmar back to their country on Thursday, sparking concerns that the move could endanger their lives and violate worldwide laws that protect refugees.
Those deported were Md Jamal, Mohbul Khan, Jamal Hussain, Md Yonus, Sabir Ahmed, Rahim Uddin and Md Salam - all in the 26-32 year age bracket and were handed over to the authorities of Myanmar at Moreh border post in Manipur. The plea was filed by advocate, Prashanth Bhushan who had sought to stall the deportation of the seven to Myanmar through the border point at Moreh in Imphal. The plea was being heard by the bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi. They were initially arrested and jailed at the Silchar central prison in Assam in 2012 charged with irregular entry, according to India's Ministry of External Affairs.
Officials in India say two Rohingya men were sent back in August - but this has not been confirmed by Myanmar.
The fresh plea said that the decision to deport was in "grave violation" of India's global obligation and moreover, the situation in Myanmar was extremely unsafe for the Rohingyas to return and they are likely to be subjected to torture and even killed.
"Illegal immigrants will be identified and repatriated", said Rijiju.
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The Centre told the apex court that the seven Rohingya illegally migrated to India in 2012 and were convicted under the Foreigners Act.
Bhushan said it is a matter of life and it is the court's responsibility to see that the lives of Rohingya are protected.
Thursday's expulsion marks the first such move by India and comes at a time when some of the country's local media have been picking on the Rohingya as troublemakers, engaged in everything from petty crime to acts of terrorism.
An exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2017 drew the world's attention to Myanmar's human rights abuses against its Muslim minority.
On Wednesday, the office of the high commissioner for human rights had accused India of "refoulement", or forcible return of refugees to a country where they are liable to be persecuted. Under the 1982 Citizenship Law of Myanmar, they have been denied Myanmar citizenship as the Myanmar government claims that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and since then they are stateless minorities.
"The Indian Government has an worldwide legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalized discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection", the statement said.
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