New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian government has described attempts to brand India as a "villain" in the Rohingya Muslims refugee crisis as "a calibrated design to tarnish India's image." This comes two days after United Nations Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein described attempts by India to deport illegal Rohingya refugees to Myanmar as "deplorable."
India's junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said, "This chorus of branding India as a villain on Rohingya issue is a calibrated design to tarnish India's image," he said in a tweet. "It (such statements) undermines India's security."
Rijiju maintained that India cannot take its security for granted.
This chorus of branding India as villain on Rohingya issue is a calibrated design to tarnish India's image. It undermines India's security.— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) 13 сентября 2017 г.
Rijiju had earlier said that the government will follow due process of law before illegal Rohingya Muslims are deported and no one should attempt to "demonize" India for adhering to its laws.
Experts in India defend the government's stand. They are also of the view that the international attention on the issue should be taken positively as it could lead to a solution in future.
"India is not a state party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees although we host thousands of refugees from neighboring countries as well as Tibet. Since we do not have a domestic legal refugee protection framework, the treatment of refugees is covered largely under the Foreigners Act of 1946, which makes no distinction between asylum-seekers, refugees, and other foreigners. Hence, any undocumented physical presence in the country a crime and the government must follow its due process. But, I also think that with all international attention and pressure from other countries to resolve the humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine state, we may see some kind of agreement in future," Dr. Smrutti Pattanaik, Research Fellow, at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told Sputnik.
The presence of illegal Rohingya Muslims in parts of India came to the fore after the union home ministry in July had said illegal immigrants like the Rohingyas pose grave security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups and asked state governments to identify and deport them.
However, other estimates indicate that around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying in India illegally and they are largely located in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.