NEW DELHI : The Centre is working on identifying Rohingya Muslims who have entered the country from Myanmar over the past 5-7 years and are staying illegally in various pockets including Jammu, for likely arrest and deportation under the Foreigners Act.
According to a senior home ministry official, there are an estimated 40,000 Rohingyas who, after being disowned by Buddhist Myanmar, had fled their homes and crossed over to India to take refuge here. They follow three infiltration routes for entering India; by sea, via Bangladesh border (there are around 3 lakh Rohingyas living in Bangladesh) and via Chin area on Myanmar border.
Around 5,500-5,700 of the Rohingya immigrants are based in Jammu alone, though the home ministry fears the number may be 10,000-11,000 if a true count is taken. This, an officer of the central security establishment conceded, is an unusually high percentage of the all-India figure.
Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi chaired a meeting here on Monday to make an assessment of the illegal Rohingya settlers in the country and discuss a mechanism for their detection, arrest and deportation. The meeting was attended by J&K chief secretary and DGP, joint secretary (J&K) in MHA and senior BSF and intelligence officers.
Though United Nations Human Rights Commission has recognised around 14,000 Rohingya Muslims living in India as 'refugees', a government official said India does not accept the status conferred by the UN body as the 'refugees' are merely foreigners who have entered the country illegally.
This, as per Indian law, is a violation of the Foreigners Act, which provides for detection, arrest, prosecution and deportation of "illegal immigrants".
While the policy on detection and likely deportation of Rohingyas is still being firmed up, an official said their deportation may not be an easy affair considering that Myanmar does not accept them as its citizens and calls them "Bengali interlopers".
Rohingya Muslims living here are not found to be linked to any terror activity, despite Lashker-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed having referred to them as "brothers" and spoken against their prosecution in Myanmar. But the security agencies say they may be more prone to radicalisation than Indian Muslims and could pose a threat in the future.