India on Thursday deported seven Rohingya immigrants, who have been staying in Assam illegally, to their country of origin Myanmar, in a first such move.
The illegal immigrants were detained in 2012 and since then they had been lodged in Cachar Central Jail in Assam’s Silchar.
“Seven Myanmarese nationals have been deported today. They were handed over to the authorities of Myanmar at Moreh border post in Manipur,” Assam Additional Director General of Police (Border) Bhaskar J Mahanta told PTI over phone.
Consular access had been given to Myanmar diplomats, who confirmed the identity of the immigrants, Mahanta said.
The confirmation of the Myanmarese citizenship of the illegal immigrants came after the government of the neighbouring country verified their addresses in Rakhine State and all of them were given travel documents by Myanmar.
This is for the first time Rohingya immigrants were sent back to Myanmar from India.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court rejected the plea made by one of the Rohingya refugees seeking to restrain the Centre from deporting them to Myanmar.
Allowing the deportation of the seven Rohingya Muslims, the Supreme Court said they were found by the competent court as illegal immigrants and have been accepted by their country of origin as citizens.
“Having considered the prayer, we would not like to interfere with the decision taken. The petition is dismissed,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
“Even the country of their origin has accepted them as its citizens,” it said.
The Centre told the apex court that the seven Rohingya illegally migrated to India in 2012 and were convicted under the Foreigners Act.
The Centre also informed the court that Myanmar has issued a certificate of identity to the seven immigrants along with one-month visa to facilitate their deportation.
The seven immigrants were apprehended on July 29, 2012, for violating the Foreigners Act.
Those who were deported include Md Jamal, Mohbul Khan, Jamal Hussain, Md Yonus, Sabir Ahmed, Rahim Uddin and Md Salam and are in the age bracket of 26-32 years.
Another official said all the Rohingya immigrants were “keen” to go back to their country and thanked the Assam government for the treatment meted out to them during their incarceration.
The Indian government had informed Parliament last year that over 14,000 Rohingya people, registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, stay in India.
However, aid agencies estimate there are about 40,000 Rohingya people in the country.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, described by the UN as the most persecuted minority in the world, fled their homes last year to escape an alleged crackdown by the Myanmarese military.
Human rights group Amnesty International has blamed Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s government for “burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State”.