The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Centre over the plan to deport illegal Rohingya immigrants from Myanmar who are residing in various parts of India.
The Centre had said illegal immigrants like the Rohingyas pose grave security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups and had asked state governments to identify and deport them.
Taking note of the issue, the NHRC said that till Friday, the country has evolved a practical balance between human and humanitarian obligations on the one hand and security and national interest on the other.
Stating that "India has been home to refugees, for centuries", the Commission has held that from the human rights angle, its "intervention is appropriate" in the matter.
"The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo moto cognisance of media reports regarding the plans of the Government of India to deport about 40,000 illegal Rohingya immigrants from Myanmar, who are residing in various parts of India.
"It has issued a notice to the Union home ministry, through its Secretary, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks," it said in a statement.
The NHRC observed that "refugees are no doubt foreign nationals but they are human beings and before taking a big step, the government of India has to look into every aspect of the situation".
The NHRC said that the Centre has to look into the situation, "keeping the fact into focus that the members of the Rohingya community, who have crossed the Indian borders and are residing in India for long, have a fear of persecution once they are pushed back to their native country".
The Commission has also observed that the Supreme Court has consistently held that the fundamental right enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution regarding the right to life and personal liberty, "applies to all, irrespective of the fact whether they are citizens of India or not".
"It (India) has continued to receive a large number of refugees from different countries. India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees and also the 1967 Protocol.
"But India is a signatory to a number of United Nations and World Conventions on Human Rights. Till today (Friday), the country has evolved a practical balance between human and humanitarian obligations on the one hand and security and national interest on the other," it observed.
The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, have settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR, and Rajasthan.
A home ministry official has, reportedly, said that India was "going ahead with plans" to deport Rohingyas and is in discussions with Myanmar and Bangladesh governments on the issue, the NHRC said.
Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju had said in Parliament on 9 August that according to available data, more than 14,000 Rohingyas, registered with the UNHCR, are presently staying in India.
"However, some inputs indicate that around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying in India illegally and the Rohingyas are largely located in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR, and Rajasthan," he had said.
In a communication to all states, the Union home ministry had said the rise of terrorism in last few decades has become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants are able to get recruited by terrorist organisations.
The Centre had directed the state governments to set up a task force at the district level to identify and deport illegally-staying foreign nationals.
(c) 2017 First Post