In the ongoing monsoon session of the parliament, on July 31, the Union Government stated that the Rohingya Muslims residing in India are considered as “illegal migrants” and not “refugees”. As the issue was being discussed in the Lok Sabha, Raja Singh, a BJP MLA from Goshamahal constituency in Telangana, who is facing numerous cases related to hate speech, raised a controversy saying that the government must shoot dead the Rohingyas and the illegal migrants from Bangladesh if they do not leave the country.
Responding to a question on Rohingyas, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh claimed that an advisory has already been sent to state governments to enumerate, observe and collect biometric data of Rohingya migrants living in India and added that “the Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Rifles have also been sensitised over not allowing in more illegal immigrants.”
Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home, said in Lok Sabha that there had been reports of Rohingyas being involved in illegal activities, but he did not define the nature of the activities. He also stated that there are 40,000 Rohingyas in India spread across states – Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Haryana and Tripura.
Perhaps, making the ruling party’s stand clear on the migrants, Raja Singh, in a press statement said, “It is necessary to send back Rohingya Muslims back to their country as India does not require such pests. I’m requesting the central government to send them outside. If Rohingyas and Bangladesh migrants do not go back, they must be shot dead.” In another inflammatory statement, the MLA made similar comments regarding migrants from Bangladesh in the context of the recently released National Register of Citizens (NRC) final draft, which has declared around 40 lakh residents in Assam as illegal migrants or stateless. Such hate speeches are not uncommon from this MLA. A week ago, Singh indirectly justified lynching of a person in Rajasthan when he stated that such acts will continue until cow slaughtering is stopped in the country.
Reportedly, the central government had also advised the state governments to identify if any of the migrants have obtained documents from India including Aadhar and voter identity cards. Earlier, in Rajya Sabha during the session, Kiren Rijiju stated that “We have approached the Government of Myanmar and Bangladesh also. We all know that they (Rohingyas) have come from the State of Rakhine in Myanmar. So, the Government of India is impressing upon the Government of Myanmar to take back these people. The process will be as per the discussion we had with sovereign countries,” while refusing to comment on what would the government do if the neighboring countries do not allow the people in question from entering in their territories.
Starting in August last year, around seven lakh people from Rohingya community crossed the Myanmar border who became refugees in various countries, mostly in Bangladesh. While India has not made its stand clear on the issue, so far, with the recent developments from the Indian side, it is emerging that the BJP government is becoming hostile towards the Rohingyas by even denying them the refugee status and by declaring them as “illegal migrants”. The ruling party BJP, on the other hand, doesn’t even distance itself when its lawmakers and members who make atrocious statements repeatedly on minorities, refugees and other vulnerable communities.