NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Hours after Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that Rohingya refugees in the national capital will be shifted to flats for economically weaker section, the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday denied any such move and directed the Delhi government to ensure that “illegal foreigners” remain in detention centres pending their extradition.
Earlier on Wednesday, Puri, the Union minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, tweeted that India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country and all Rohingya refugees would be shifted to EWS flats in east Delhi’s Bakkarwala area. But in the evening, he shared the Home Ministry statement clarifying the issue of Rohingya illegal foreigners and said it “gives out the correct position”.
In the statement, the Home Ministry said, “With respect to news reports in certain sections of media regarding Rohingya illegal foreigners, it is clarified that the MHA has not given any directions to provide EWS flats to Rohingya illegal migrants at Bakkarwala in New Delhi.”
It also said that the Delhi government “proposed to shift Rohingya Muslims to a new location”.
But Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia attacked the BJP dispensation, alleging the central government was trying to blame the AAP government after “‘secretly trying to give permanent residence to the Rohingyas in Delhi” and the Delhi government will not allow this “conspiracy”.
The BJP has been accusing the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of trying to settle illegal Rohingya Muslims due to its appeasement politics.
According to a Home Ministry estimate, around 40,000 Rohingya migrants who have fled from Myanmar live in different parts of the country, including Delhi.
In its statement on Twitter, the Home Ministry said, “Illegal foreigners are to be kept in Detention Centre till their deportation as per law. The Government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a Detention Centre. They have been directed to do the same immediately.”
Puri had in his morning tweets tagged a news agency story and said those who had made a career out of spreading canards on India’s refugee policy deliberately linking it to CAA will be disappointed.
“India respects & follows @UN Refugee Convention 1951 & provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed,” he said.
“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 and round-the-clock @DelhiPolice protection,” he posted.
Noting that the Delhi government proposed to shift Rohingya Muslims to a new location, the Home Ministry said it has directed the Delhi government to ensure “these illegal foreigners” remain at their present location.
It has already taken up the matter of their deportation with the country concerned through the Ministry of External Affairs, the Home Ministry said.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which functions under the Home Ministry, has constructed EWS flats in the Bakkarwala area near the Tikri border.
BJP’s national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said the Modi government has a clear policy that there will be no compromise on national security and the Rohingya infiltrators are a threat to the integrity of the country.
“The law of our country says that they will be deported and this jurisdiction lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Rohingya infiltrators are a threat to India’s security.
“But (Delhi chief minister) Arvind Kejriwal is doing the politics of appeasement keeping the national security at bay. Not long ago, there were news reports in which the facts were meant to mislead the public. The Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified on that,” Bhatia said
However, Sisodia claimed that the decision to shift the Rohingya Muslims was taken by officers at the behest of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG).
He said after taking the decision, it was sent for the approval of the LG without showing it to the Delhi chief minister or the Delhi Home minister.
“The Delhi government will not allow this conspiracy to illegally settle Rohingyas in Delhi,” the Delhi deputy CM said.
Sisodia said the central government was flaunting the settling of Rohingyas as an achievement in the morning, but after it was opposed by the Aam Aadmi Party, “it has now started putting the responsibility on the Delhi government”.
“Whereas it is a fact that the central government was secretly trying to give permanent residence to the Rohingyas in Delhi,” he claimed.
Mariam, a 35-year-old Rohingya refugee, claimed some of the migrants in Kalindi Kunj “were told on Wednesday that they will be moved to detention centres”.
“We don’t know why the Government of India changed their decision. The only thing I was happy about was that my daughter and I would be living in a pucca building for the first time after a decade,” Mariam told PTI.
Kabir Ahmed, who came to India in 2012 and holds a UNHCR ID, said that they “fear being mistreated” if their refugee camps transform into detention centres.
“We heard about how the other Rohingya refugees were treated after they were detained in a few states in India. I am afraid we will go through the same. We haven’t harmed anyone and neither do we intend to harm any Indian,” the 42-year-old Rohingya migrant told PTI.
Last year, the government informed the Rajya Sabha that “illegal Rohingya immigrants” are staying in 12 states and union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka and Kerala.
Union minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said the government had got reports that Rohingya Muslims have indulged in illegal activities in the country.
He said all foreign nationals who enter the country without valid travel documents are treated as illegal migrants.
The minister said detection and deportation of illegal migrants, including Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, after due process of nationality verification is a continuous process. (PTI)