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Rohingyas In Delhi: From Hope To Devastation In Few Hours

Currently, more than 17,000 Rohingyas are living in India, scattered in different parts of the country, according to the United Nations estimates

Photo Credit : Hardeep Singh Puri/Twitter


Early in the morning of 17 August, India's Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri sparked a controversy over the proposed allocation of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) flats to Rohingya refugees. 

Puri took to Twitter and wrote, "India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision, all Rohingya refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in the Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs & round-the-clock Delhi police protection."

While slamming his political opponents, he stated that those who made a career out of spreading canards on India’s refugee policy deliberately linking it to #CAA will be disappointed.

"India respects & follows UN Refugee Convention 1951 & provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed," Puri tweeted. 

Soon after, his tweet went viral on social media which caused massive outrage and people slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government for favouring Rohingya. 

While this announcement was welcomed by many, several social media users alleged that the government wanted to appease the "ecosystem" but backlash by BJP supporters led to backtracking of the policy.

Hence, the Indian home ministry jumped into the controversy and explained the stand of the central government. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs in a statement said, "With respect to news reports in certain sections of the media regarding Rohingya illegal foreigners, it is clarified that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has not given any directions to provide EWS flats to Rohingya illegal migrants at Bakkarwala in New Delhi."

It said that the Delhi government proposed to shift the Rohingyas to a new location. MHA has directed the GNCTD to ensure that the Rohingya illegal foreigners will continue at the present location as MHA has already taken up the matter of their deportation with the concerned country through MEA.

However, the Delhi government refuted the claims. Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister, Delhi took to Twitter and wrote, "The news that the central government was not tired of telling its achievement in the morning, after being opposed by the Aam Aadmi Party, has now started putting the responsibility on the Delhi government.

Whereas it is a fact that the central government was secretly trying to give permanent residence to the Rohingyas in Delhi."

The officers and police took decisions only at the behest of the LG, which were being sent to Delhi for approval of the LG without showing it to the Chief Minister or the Home Minister. The Delhi government will not allow this conspiracy to illegally settle Rohingyas in Delhi, Sisodia added. 

"Illegal foreigners are to be kept in detention centres till their deportation as per law. The government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a detention centre. They have been directed to do the same immediately," MHA added.

Meanwhile, Puri, a former diplomat, then shared a copy of MHA's statement and stated that it gives the "correct position".

"The Home Ministry’s press release with respect to the issue of Rohingya illegal foreigners gives out the correct position," he tweeted. 

According to media reports, more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees are living in tents throughout Delhi. Currently, more than 17,000 Rohingyas are living in India, scattered in different parts of the country, according to the United Nations estimates. 

"India has been reluctant to accept refugees for a noticeable period now. Being a relatively less developed democracy, accommodating new refugees brings forth unrest in the economic and social stability," told Naresh M Gehi, Founder and Managing Partner, Gehis Immigration and International Legal Services, told BW Businessworld earlier.