Rejected by their own nation and holding Article 21 and Article 14 of Indian Constitution as a shield to label India as their legal custodian, the Rohingyas is the ethnic group inhabited mostly in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. These predominantly comprise of Muslims who speak in the dialect somewhat similar to Bengali.

There has been a mass migration and deliberate ethnic cleansing by the Myanmar government. The adherence to 1982 Citizenship laws which deny citizenship to the Rohingyas and consequent denial of rights and privileges by the Myanmar govt. is the main crux why there has been a mass exodus to other countries like India and Bangladesh. According to the law, they can be provided with the citizenship only if they prove that they had some ancestors before Myanmar (before 1824, then Burma) was colonized by the British.

The dogma of the Citizenship law denied the Rohingyas of any civil rights and hence began a series of riots between the majoritarian Rohingyas and the Buddhists in the Rakhine State, majorly in the year 2012. In August 2017, the issue gained fire and a mass exodus of more than 4 lakh Rohingyas was observed. Although, this figure has now raised to 5.5 lakh for Bangladesh alone with India hosting more than 1.25 lakh of the lot.  The alleged guerilla outfit called ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) attacked 30 police posts in demand for a “Democratic Muslim state for Rohingyas” and this added as the last straw to mass scale retaliation, some terming as genocide, by the Army and aligned groups.

The illegitimate oligarchy of Myanmar, as a result of yesteryear discrimination, has not only put India into fiscal waters but also has forced the unwanted custody of the refugees over it. The issue demands radical thought as to what extent is India liable for the economic and social welfare of the group of refugees [and not citizens].

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Bangladesh shelters more than 5 lakh Rohingyas has now closed its gates which it opened under pressure of the UNHCR and established refugee camps near Cox Bazaar.

Article 21 of Indian Constitution offers every “person” the right to personal liberty and Article 14 offers equality and protection before the law to every “person”. But the Article 19 provides the civil rights to its “citizens” and not “person”.  History has it that an extended stay and welfare for the refugees has ultimately led to them demanding citizenship or if not that the civil rights of the nation.  But how much is India responsible for the illegal immigrants and until when.

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Going the legal way, India must treat humanely to those who are distressed and rejected by their own country on humanitarian grounds. But India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN convention relating to the status of the Refugees nor is it a party to the 1961 UN Convention of Reduction of Statelessness.

India has been handling the asylum seekers, refugees or the illegal immigrants in an informal manner. This shows that despite all the economic burden and quenching of resources by the non-natives India is still home to the Rohingyas.  Henceforth, India has no legal or global obligation to mother the Rohingyas except for the humanitarian grounds which it is already pursuing.

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Although, it is fallacious to not show solidarity towards the displaced this has not gone too right in case of India. India is home to 1.5 lakh Tibetan Asylum seekers along with the Buddhist guru Dalai Lama who sheltered in India after the 1959 Vietnam crisis. The recent 2014 Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy approves the Tibetans of taking jobs according to their qualification (not government jobs) and they can undertake any economic activity. This is a set of civil rights offered on a silver platter. The combination of civil, political and social rights ensures a full citizenship to an individual.

In 2017, Indian government offered passports to the Tibetan refugees on the grounds that they release their claim to settlements and abstain from availing any benefits from the Central Tibetan Administration and should agree to the cancellation of refugee certificates. In the year 2014, Tibetan Refugees were invited to vote but very few turned up scaring losing their refugee status and the associated entitlements with that.

The citizenship or a full citizenship is ensured only when civil, political and social rights are at disposal for an individual. Assuming that civil and political phase is done with the only hurdle for Tibetan to be rightful citizens of India are social rights.

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The opposition argues that the amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955, in the year 2016 rescues India to not cater to the Rohingyas. According to the amendment, India will give citizenship to an individual belonging to the minorities such as Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis, and Sikhs from Afganistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who enter the country without a valid visa or travel documents. It clearly refrains the Ahmadiyyas from Pakistan, Rohingyas from Myanmar and Tamil Muslims from Sri Lanka from giving any citizenship in near future.

Following the very example in front of our wide opened eyes (Tibetans), sheltering refugees have gone not so well for India. International diplomacy and a vibrant global image are not enough to lure India to open gates for any more Rohingyas or not think twice before deporting them once the present situation settles.

Infiltration from the Rakhine State has burdened India and as a country, it has to extend its resources first to its own citizen before anyone else. India has been welcoming to refugees but this must not be mistaken as a gesture of over the top solidarity. The global humanitarian pressure over India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to house the refugees must be directed as a vehement global political pressure on Myanmar to take back what is rightfully theirs

Disclaimer: The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of N4M Media.

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