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Refugees in India

India is not a signatory of the 1951/67 Geneva Refugee Convention Protocols. India had based its refusal on the fact that the protocols were too westernised and will create an economic burden on a third world nation like India. Still, India houses a large number of refugees from neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Tibet and Myanmar.

Among others, India, is a party of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes that a person cannot be #deported to a situation of imminent threat. But the Indian Constitution does not differentiate #refugees from other irregular #immigrants; so, they have no special rights. Hence, they have to seek asylum status from the #UNHCR office in New Delhi. UNHCR carries out the refugee determination process and provides identification papers to them. The responsibility to house them and provide basic amenities like #education, #healthcare, and the #job falls on the UNHCR, albeit sometimes unsuccessfully due to resource scarcity. As of 31 October 2021, UNHCR has only 43,641 people registered as refugees and asylum seekers out of 212,874' persons of concern.'

While the Indian Judiciary established some rights for refugees and asylum seekers over time, without a proper legal framework, the Judiciary with its open interpretation of the law can lead to failed refugee protection. In 2021, the Supreme Court had expelled a group of #Rohingya refugees based on concerns regarding national security.

Thus, people are neither recognised as refugees nor as citizens even though the Government has extended certain special privileges, allowing them access to jobs, education, and healthcare. However, they have not been offered #citizenship despite living in these lands for over 30 years. The privileges extend to #Tamil refugees who fled #SriLanka during the 1976 Civil War and #Tibetan refugees fleeing #Chinese#persecution. But, Rohingyas have faced inhumane pushback from the Indian army.

The lack of a legal framework puts all refugees at the whim of the Government's interpretation of laws. Indian Government's focus should be given to the fulfilment of their #humanrights.

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