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There Is Not a Single Terror-Related Case against Rohingyas in India, Says Lawyer Representing Them in SC

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who is appearing for 7000 Rohingya refugees in settlement camps of Jammu, said the charges of Rohingyas' terror links were driven by ideology, and not facts.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:September 22, 2017, 12:56 PM IST
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There Is Not a Single Terror-Related Case against Rohingyas in India, Says Lawyer Representing Them in SC
A Rohingya boy looks on as another boy makes a kite in Leda unregistered Rohingya Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, November 22, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)
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New Delhi: On September 9, when RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya moved the Supreme Court seeking to deport Rohingya refugees, the moot point of his petition was that Rohingyas have links with Al-Qaeda.

"It has also become known that Al-Qaeda is trying to use the Rohingya Community for terror and Jihad," read Govindacharya's petition.

On September 18, the official affidavit filed in the apex court by the Ministry of Home Affairs made a similar point. "It is also found by the Central Government that many of the Rohingyas figure in the suspected sinister designs of ISI/ISIS and other extremist groups."

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who is appearing for 7000 Rohingya refugees in settlement camps of Jammu, questioned how Govindacharya could preempt the Home Ministry's stand, particularly when not a single terror-related case or complaint has been filed in any Indian police station.

"It seems Govindacharya and the government are working together. They don't need any proof," Gonsalves told News18.

The Senior Advocate, who is fighting the case pro-bono for refugees, said the charges of Rohingyas' terror links were driven by ideology, and not facts.

"I appear for 7000 Rohingyas in Jammu. There is not a single case against them for any terror-related activities. These Rohingyas have been there for five years. Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has made a statement that there is no case against any Rohingya. Even the Director General of Police, Jammu, has admitted that there is not a single case against any Rohingya. This is a complete lie which is being repeated loudly in belief that soon it will appear like the truth," said Gonsalves.

When asked, former BJP member and RSS ideologue, K N Govindacharya told News18 that his petition was based on 'newspaper reports'. He said "government must have done a lot research to establish the terror link".

"Our contention that they have extremist links are based on news reports which are a few months old. But I am sure the government is a big machinery and they have found the links in detail. But we all have seen how the Rohingyas have attacked the Myanmar army," Govindacharya said.

Home Ministry, in its affidavit, has said Rohingya refugees are not citizens of India and hence they are not entitled to claim the protection of Fundamental Rights under the Constitution. Gonsalves, however, claimed the Constitution protects them from being deported. "It flows from Article 21 which guarantees Right to Life and it includes both citizens and as well as foreigners. Therefore, the Constitution protects foreigners. Now if they are sent back then they will be raped, killed and their houses will be burnt… therefore, Article 21 prohibits the government from causing threat to anybody’s life," said Gonsalves.

Another point of contention has been that India is not a party to the 1951 and 1967 Refugee Conventions and thus it's not bound by International Law. To this, Gonsalves said, "The government is not living in 1951 yet. It has been seventy years and this aspect of non-return of refugees has become customary international law and thus it’s binding on India."

"Customary laws does not require anything in written and has now been elevated to the principle of 'jus cogens'. No country can say torture is allowed under some condition, no country can say genocide can be allowed under some condition, and similarly non-return falls under it. Rohingyas have constitutional rights to stay in India," said Gonsalves.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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