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SC seeks Centre's response on plea claiming curbs on Rohingyas


IANS New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the central government's response on a plea that the BSF was stopping Rohingya refugees from entering India and on access to education and other facilities to Rohingya children already residing here.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud sought the response, by four weeks, as counsel Prashant Bhushan complained that the Border Security Force (BSF) was preventing them from crossing from Bangladesh and Myanmar borders by "sprinkling chilli powder".
The application said that pushback was not only occurring on border with Bangladesh but also in the states that share a border with Myanmar, and cited BSF chief K.K.Sharma's statement saying that it was their policy to push back the Rohingya refugees seeking to enter India instead of arresting them.
Bhushan, appearing for Rohingya petitioner Mohammad Salimullah, said that pushing back Rohingya refugees, who are fleeing their country to save their lives, was in breach of the international conventions on refugees.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the court that it should not interfere in the matter as the "constitutionally empowered executive was seized of the matter and the diplomatic process is on to deal with the situation".
"We don't want India to be the refugee capital of the world," he retorted as Bhushan told the bench that BSF was using chilli powder and stun grenades to push back the refugees who are fleeing for their lives.
As Bhushan referred to a policy under which Hindu, Sikhs and people belonging to other religious denominations are welcome but not Muslims, Mehta objected to the word "welcome" saying that there was no welcome.
At this, the court said that the word "welcome" may be an exaggeration but there is a policy decision to that effect.
Appearing for the National Human Rights Commission, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium initially told the court that he was in agreement with what Mehta was saying to let the government take its course and address the issue through diplomatic channels but then said that the NHRC was only concerned with the Rohingyas present in India.
He said that Rohingyas refugees have right to education, health care and security and for securing them, they could knock the doors of the top court.

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First Published: Jan 31 2018 | 8:12 PM IST

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