Terming the Rohingya as a "bad lot" and a "security risk", Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy on Wednesday said politicians opposing the Centre's move to deport these illegal immigrants were playing "dirty politics".
Roy, who has courted controversies in the past for his statements, claimed that if Rohingya Muslims were allowed to settle in the country, it may prompt an "exodus of the Hindus". "India does not even share its border with Rakhine State (of Myanmar). Then why on earth should we provide refuge status to these Rohingya. And, if India does that, by the same token it should tomorrow provide refuge to such migrants from any other country," he said.
Roy was the chief guest at an ICHR-hosted seminar on 'Refugees & Infiltrators: India's policy towards them: A historical perspective and some thoughts on the current scenario'. Earlier in his address at the event, he endorsed the Centre's terming of the Rohingya as "illegal immigrants" and said "they were a bad lot and a security risk to the country".
Asked to elaborate what he meant by a 'bad lot', the 73-year-old governor said, "Some of these so-called refugees have been found in Kashmir and even aligning with separatists." During his speech at the inauguration of the day-long seminar, he also made a reference to the persecution faced by Hindus in Bangladesh in 1971, and the migration the Liberation War had triggered, to emphasise the issue of refugees.
Roy, who authored the book "My People, Uprooted: A Saga of the Hindus of Eastern Bengal", shared the history of the region and the bloodshed it has suffered. "If the Rohingya start settling in India, it will affect the demography of the country. And, later may also trigger exodus of the Hindus," he claimed.
Asked about the government's move being opposed by some politicians, he countered, "Those opposing the deportation plan are playing dirty politics." Home Minister Rajnath Singh in September had said that the Rohingya are "not refugees" who have applied for asylum in India but illegal immigrants who "will be deported".
Stating that "India has been home to refugees, for centuries", the National Human Rights Commission had in August issued a notice to the Centre, saying from the human rights angle, its "intervention is appropriate" in the matter. The Indian government has maintained its stand that the "issue of national security is involved with regard to illegal immigration which our country can't undermine". The government told Parliament on August 9 that more than 14,000 Rohingya, registered with the UNHCR, stay in India. However, aid agencies estimate there are about 40,000 Rohingya in the country.