The Supreme Court Petition which Prashant Bhushan is fighting against the Government of India is strong in itself to prevent the deportation of the Rohingya Refugees. Even the Government has realized that.
The courts on the first hearing of the case on 4th September asked the Government to reply on 11th. On 11th the government asked for more time. The way the things are happening in the court and the extremely insensitive statements coming from the Ministers and the corporate Media ‘Debates’ and discussions, there is a dirty plan in motion.
I initiated the petition by talking to Prashant Bhushan and convinced Salimullah and Shaquir for it, because of the ‘Irresponsible’ way the government was acting. Now going back all the statements, especially by Minister of State for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju it seems like the government was playing a dirty game.
In contrast to what India said at the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly in November 2016, “People seeking shelter in India have never been turned back, we have time and again demonstrated our abiding commitment to the principles of protection of all those who seek shelter.”
Rijiju has been on a roll making stupid and insensitive statements. He has been repeatedly saying ‘As far as India is concerned, they are illegal immigrants and will be deported’. When asked about UN recognizing them as refugees and that the law of non-refoulment (which dictates that the host country cannot deport people when they face threats to their lives) is applicable in this context, he said, ’India is not a signatory of the UN Refugee agreement and UNHCR has no legal status in India. They giving Identity cards doesn’t make a difference.’ Going beyond that he made insensitive statements like,’ We are not going to throw them in the sea, but they will be deported’
After the petition in court, and knowing about India’s stance, India received a flak from activists, the international community and international Human Rights organisations, to which India replied that they don’t have a plan in motion to deport them, which was a clear lie. Prashant Bhushan has access to a document which he has submitted to the court which is a ‘Notification’ by the Home Ministry to the Chief Secretaries of all the states, Police and Intelligence chiefs to track and prepare for the deportation of the Rohingyas.
In Narendra Modi’s joint statement with Aung San Suu Ki in Myanmar, he did not mention the word ‘Rohingya’, but going head over heels in supporting the genocide by Myanmar’s government he said, ‘Suu ki’s leadership is exemplary in the times when the Security forces are being killed by extremist violence’, when in actuality the situation is completely opposite on ground. These kinds of statements set the precedence for the national policy, which is against the ethos of ‘India’.
Post the 1st hearing on 11th, in a desperate attempt the government under the authority of Home Ministry submitted an affidavit in the court, which it later withdrew citing that it was incomplete. The affidavit submitted today also states the same which it had submitted and withdrew earlier. It states, “deport Rohingya... is taken in larger public interest and in the interest of national security... such a decision being a policy decision may not be interfered with by this Hon'ble court.”, meaning that the Rohingyas’s have no right to approach court under Article 19 and also foreigners Act applies to them. It also adds that it is an executive matter, the court should not interfere in these matters.
Just a day before that, on 13th September Rajnath Singh had made a statement, ‘We cannot rule out the possibility of a security threat and I have already cleared our stand with regard to illegal immigrants.’
The Government has recently got a new propagandist in the picture, who is asserting the current government’s hateful and communal policy. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said on Thursday.
"Let me make it very clear... they are not Indians, they are illegal migrants. We can't trust them," Ahir said while speaking with a news channel.
"These people had come in small numbers and the then Indian government sheltered them. But now the government has decided not to keep them," Ahir said.
"It is not in the nation's interest to keep them here. The government will not yield (to keep Rohingyas) under any pressure," he added.
As Parvez Khurram mentioned, “Is India only going to welcome Hindus who are persecuted, but not others?” This clearly shows the communal politics in play in a humanitarian issue.
Now that the government is realizing that it is on the losing side, it has invoked the ‘Holy Grail’ of ‘National Security’. They know all the people who are supporting the Rohingyas will think twice before standing up for them and will be deterred.
Even if there are links, as the government suggests, in the affidavit it has submitted today, (18th September 2017), in the Supreme Court, there are UN conventions in place, which mentions that the cases must be taken up on a person basis and the whole community or mass of people cannot be denied refugee or asylum status on that basis.
With this affidavit and the media discourse around it, the government is trying to change the public discourse. The natural sympathy which the Rohingyas have right now, because of the horrible way they are being persecuted in Myanmar. The senior most ministers and his gang talking about ‘National Security’, ‘Rohingya Threat’ is creating a wrong discussion and discourse in the society, because the ‘Agenda’ of these talks and discussions are already decided so as to paint the Rohingya’s as a Threat to National Security and even terrorists.
I would not be surprised if tomorrow they go ahead and manufacture some incident to prove what they are talking. Remember JNU anti-India slogans, which no one could prove, but the whole narrative of JNU being anti-national is set, and the larger population still believes that.
These statements by the government and its ministers are dirty tactics to communalise the country’s atmosphere. The way the court hearings are also going on, it is nothing but a delaying tactic.
All these, in addition to the plea by the RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya of the Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan who is also a party to the petition and wants to send Rohingyas’ back because they are a ‘burden’, is nothing but making it a religious issue. While Fali Sam Nariman who appeared along with Prashant Bhushan for the Rohingyas’ said that the NHRC has a clear stand on the issue that the government cannot deport them back, and it should be considered in the court. As NHRC is an independent third party which has authority on these matters.
On the other hand, hate-mongers like Suresh Chavkhanke of the Sudarshan News TV. He not only enjoys personal relations with RSS & BJP people but also tags the Prime Minister, Home Minister and other BJP members and ministers in hateful posts. The government’s nonobjection to it makes them a party to this hate. It is a popular nationalist Hindi website, which runs the government propaganda in the cow belt.
All this external pressure supported by the petition submitted to the court today is nothing less than Government’s attempt to communalise & politicise a humanitarian issue. India should uphold humanity, fight against this communal agenda, and help the refugees by letting them ‘Stay alive’ in India because that is what we as Indian’s do, because those are our values we have fought for and build our country on.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.