India set to deport Rohingya Muslim refugees in New Delhi
India's Home Ministry says the persecuted Rohingya Muslim refugees in New Delhi will be held at a detention center and then expelled.
The ministry said in a recent statement the “Rohingya illegal foreigners” would remain at a locality as authorities worked to deport them.
"Illegal foreigners are to be kept in the detention center till their deportation as per law," the statement read. "The Government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a detention center. They have been directed to do the same immediately."
The announcement contradicts an earlier statement promising shelter and security to the Muslim refugees from Myanmar.
On Wednesday, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s federal minister for housing and urban affairs, said Rohingya refugees would be allotted flats in western Delhi and round-the-clock police protection.
As of early this year, around 1,100 Rohingya lived in Delhi and another 17,000 elsewhere in India. Most of the refugees work as daily wagers to make a living.
Rohingya rights activist Ali Johar, who moved to India a decade ago, said some 2,000 Rohingya had left for Bangladesh this year, amid fears of being deported.
The activist underlined fears among the community, which has faced the ire of some Indian right-wing Hindu groups, that the new facilities could be used to enclose the Rohingya.
"If it turns out to be a detention camp, it will be a nightmare for us."
The far-right government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has previously tried to repatriate members of the Rohingya, who are a minority community in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet recently said it remains unsafe for Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, nearly five years after a crackdown there sparked an exodus to neighboring Bangladesh.