A group “concerned citizens”, including former Home Minister P Chidambaram and ex-Home Secretary G K Pillai, on Monday urged the government not to deport Rohingya Muslims from India, saying it will be against its own humanitarian principles and traditions.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the group of 51 people urged the government to lead a global response to the crisis and exert its diplomatic clout to pressurise Myanmar to end the security crackdown in Rakhine and ensure eventual safe and unhindered return of those Rohingya who wish to go home.
“As an aspiring global leader of the 21st century, India cannot afford to adopt a short-sighted approach to what has now become a monumental, global crisis. Our actions must now align with our ambitions. In the absence of strong, international leadership, India has the opportunity to craft a bold, new approach and pave the way for a new kind of global leadership,” it said.
The letter, also signed by MPs Shashi Tharoor, D P Tripathi and Majeed Memon, reminded Modi that he often refers India as the land of Gandhi and Buddha and they look up to him to honour the principles that they upheld. “We stand ready to support your leadership,” it said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had told the Supreme Court that Rohingyas are a security threat and the government could not allow their stay in the country.
Arguing for allowing Rohingyas to stay, it said deportation would go against its obligations under international law as well as its own constitutional provisions.
“These people of course possess the right to return home in safety and dignity, but the present situation is far from safe for them to return. Until the extra-judicial killings, gang-rapes, arson and other forms of violence have ceased in Myanmar, the Rohingya, under the established principles of international law, enjoy the right to stay in India,” the letter said.
India must recognise and acknowledge that massive human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killings, burning of villages, massacres, rape and attacks by Myanmars security forces is the primary reason why the Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes, cross borders and seek sanctuary in other countries, it said.
“It is in India’s national interest to ensure that all hostilities against the Rohingya community come to an immediate halt. Moreover, India’s credibility as a net security provider for our neighbours in the region would be severely compromised if we fail to act on behalf of our broader interests in the region,” it said