SC boost to police plan for deporting Rohingyas

IMPHAL,4th Oct: Ruling by the Supreme Court that it would not intervene in the deportation of Rohingya refugees who enter the country illegally coupled with the Assam government successfully despatching the first batch of Rohingyas refugees to Myanmar, both on Thursday, is likely to aid in expediting the process for vacating Sajiwa Central Jail of Rohingyas.

With a team of Assam police handing over seven Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar authorities on completion of six and half year prison term in a detention centre of Silchar town, near Jiribam, a source informed that Sajiwa jail authorities are hopeful that their efforts to deport 11 Rohingyas currently lodged in the Central Jail would soon receive positive response from the government of Manipur.

While disclosing that the 11 Rohingyas, arrested by Manipur police from different parts of the state for authorised entry had already completed their sentence term, the source said that Sajiwa jail authorities had submitted relevant report to the Additional DGP, Manipur for necessary process to deport the detainees. On receipt of the report, the ADGP, according to the source, forwarded the matter to the state government and is awaiting clearance from the minister concerned. The source maintained that the jail authorities are fully prepared for deporting the jailed Rohingyas as and when the home minister gives the nod.

Regardless of the reported process for emptying Rohingyas from Sajiwa jail, the government of Assam on Thursday completed the process for sending back the seven Rohingya Muslims after an Assam police team comprising 27 officers and personnel escorted them from the Silchar detention centre via Jiribam district for the formal handing over on Myanmar side of the international border. The seven Rohingyas were deported as per the order issued by deputy secretary of Assam government’s political department.

The Assam police team also handed over details of the seven at the time of handing them over to Myanmar officials at Immigration Office, Tamu which is located near Moreh Gate No 2. Identities of the seven have been established as Md Inus s/o Md Mahmud, Md Sabir Ahmed s/o Kabir Ahmed, Md Jamal s/o Md Sukkur, Md Salam s/o Md Illias, Md Mukbul Khan s/o (late) Jafaruddin, Md Rohimuddin s/o Md Nizamuddin and Md Jamal Hussain s/o Md Ahmed Hussain. All of them are from Keito (Badarpara) village of Myanmar’s Faida district and in the 26-32 year age bracket.

Rohingya refugees were handed over at 1 pm in the presence of Moreh SDPO cum Immigration Officer Sandip Gopal Das, Moreh Integrated Check-post in-charge Md Tajjuddin and officer-in-charge of Moreh police station Letkhohao Vaiphei, and Myanmarese officials. Our Moreh correspondent quoted deputy director of Tamu Immigration Office Aung Myo and immigration officer Maung Maung Tar as saying that officials of the immigration office will be responsible for escorting the seven Rohingyas up to a place called Monou North-eastern Valley from where they will move on their own.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Thursday cleared last minute hurdles leading to the first ever deportation of seven illegally migrated Rohingyas to Myanmar by dismissing the plea which sought to thwart the government’s move.
Just after the court’s order, the authorities concerned deported the seven illegal immigrants, who had migrated to India in 2012. The top court said that these Rohingyas were convicted by the competent court under the Foreigners Act and were held to be as illegal immigrants.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph said that even the country of their origin Myanmar has identified them and accepted them as its citizens. “Having considered the prayer, we would not like to interfere with the decision taken. The petition is dismissed,” the bench said.

The bench rejected the plea made by one of the Rohingyas, who had filed an application seeking to restrain the Centre from deporting to Myanmar the seven Rohingyas lodged in a detention centre at Silchar in Assam. The top court took the case as first matter after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Jaffarullah, informed the court that it is an urgent issue as the seven Rohingyas were taken to the Indo-Myanmar border from where they will be deported.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre said that these Rohingyas illegally migrated to India in 2012 and were convicted under the Foreigners Act. He said that after the conviction they were sent to a detention centre and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had contacted the Myanmar embassy for identification of these seven Rohingyas.

“Following the verification, Myanmar government issued a certificate of identity to the seven Rohingyas along with one month visa to facilitate their deportation,” he said, adding that after getting the travel documents they were taken to the border. The bench, asked Mehta that does his submissions made before the court were on an affidavit.

Mehta replied in an affirmative and read out the relevant paragraphs saying that these seven Rohingyas had illegally entered into the territory of India. He said that authorities concerned caught them and put them in detention centre following their conviction by a competent court. Mehta said that after the MEA contacted embassy of Myanmar and they confirmed the Myanmarese citizenship of the illegal immigrants following which one month visa and relevant documents were issued.

The bench then told Bhushan, “First of all they have been held as illegal immigrants by the concerned court and secondly the country of their origin has accepted them as its citizens. Now what remains”. Bhushan said that Myanmar had earlier refused to accept these Rohingyas as its citizens. He said that after the genocide in Myanmar in which over 10,000 people had died, lakhs of Rohingyas have migrated to Bangladesh and India.

Bhushan added that even United Nations have termed it was a worst kind of genocide in which many Rohingyas have been killed and their properties destroyed. “These are not illegal immigrants but refugees who have migrated due to genocide in their country. The court should direct sending UN high commissioner or his representatives to talk to these seven Rohingyas. If they are willing to go back to their country, then its fine but they should not be sent under some kind of duress”, he said.

The bench said it would not like to interfere with the decision and dismissed the petition. Bhushan said it is a matter of life and it is the court’s responsibility to see that the lives of Rohingyas are protected. However, the bench was not in agreement with his submission and said, “You don’t need to remind us of our responsibilities. We very well understand our responsibilities”. The application was filed by one Jaffarullah, who said Rohingyas should not be deported under any kind of duress as they have migrated due to “genocide” in Myanmar.

The interim plea, seeking urgent measures to stop the proposed deportation of seven Rohingyas, was filed on a pending PIL. The PIL was filed earlier by two Rohingya immigrants -- Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir -- challenging the Centre’s decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India after escaping from Myanmar due to alleged widespread discrimination and violence against the community. This is for the first time that Rohingya immigrants were sent back to Myanmar from India.

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