Rohinga refugees are illegal immigrants in India, the government has said. (PTI)
Fearing a backlash from rights groups and the international community for its stand on the Rohingya refugees, the Home Ministry has said the government's first duty is towards its citizens. In a written submission to the Supreme Court today
defending its move to deport them, the centre said that the refugees from Myanmar are a "very serious and potential threat to national security".
"It is a sensitive matter. Whatever Government of India will do, will be in nation's interest," Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told reporters today.
"All illegal migrants are dealt with under the due process and rule of law applicable in our democratic set up," said Ashok Prasad, an advisor to the ministry.
The Ministry said the Foreigners Act 1946 empowers the centre to take action against foreigners who are staying illegally in country. "It's is the duty and obligation of the government to act in the matter," said a senior official.
The Home Ministry said that the process of identification and deportation of such illegal foreigners in India is elaborately laid down in executive instructions. And the instructions strictly follow established due process of law.
The Ministry also pointed out that Indian government does not support illegal migration either to its territories or of an Indian citizen to foreign territories. "Curbing illegal migration is a priority area since it has major security economic and social ramifications and impinges significantly on the basic rights of Indian citizens," said a senior official who is directly dealing with this case, requesting not to be named.
Regulated migration, however, is facilitated through an elaborate visa regime aimed at securing the best interest of all concerned parties, he said.
"No illegal migrant has a right to stay without prescribed legal documents nor is he entitled to the right to reside and move freely within India under Article 19 which is available only to Indian citizens," he adds.
According to the Home Ministry, the influx of Rohingyas to India started in 2012.
"Involvement of some of these illegal migrants has been noticed in criminal activities including obtaining fraudulently Indian identity documents and fake currency," said an internal note of the ministry.
"It has spawned network of organised groups of touts / agents who were involved in this racket. In addition some of the illegal migrants are suspected to be having links with ISI/ ISIS operatives and members of extremists groups targeting India," it added.