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India deporting refugees back to Myanmar

14 May 20240 comments

India has begun deporting people who fled the 2021 military coup back to Myanmar.

The first group was sent back to Myanmar last month amid escalating fighting between rebel militia and the ruling military government.

Thousands of civilians, including disillusioned troops, from Myanmar have crossed the border into India since the coup.

This has prompted the Indian government to announced plan to put up a fence on its border with Myanmar and impose and stricter visa regime.

The group deported, mostly Rohingya Muslims, were sent back to Myanmar from the border state of Manipur, which plans to send back more after an outbreak of sporadic violence that has seen more than 200 people killed over the past year.

“Without any discrimination, we have completed the first phase of deportation of illegal immigrants from Myanmar. The state government is continuing the identification of illegal immigrants,” said Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said in a social media post.

India has not signed the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, which enshrines refugee rights and nations’ responsibilities to protect them. Nor does India have its own refugee protection laws.

Governor Singh is from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr Modi is seeking a rare third straight five-year term in ongoing national elections and he has ramped up xenophobia.

He has been talking about “internal threats” and using anti-Muslim rhetoric that was his metier during his time as chief minister of the state of Gujarat.

Referring to Muslims “those with more children”, he has played on the false fear that Muslim birth-rates will soon make Hindus a minority.

Muslims make up less than 15 per cent of India’s 1.4 billion strong population.

Mr Modi recently gave speech in which he said that the rival Congress Party would give away to Muslims the gold ornament worn by millions of married Hindu women, if they were elected.

He has even said the Congress Party would favour Muslims in selecting the Indian cricket team.

India recently announced plans for $US3.7 billion fence to secure its 1,600 kilometre border with Myanmar.

It also said it would end a decades-old visa-free movement policy with Myanmar citing “national security” and maintaining the demography of the north-east region.