The curious case of the possible deportation by India of a 16-year-old Rohingya girl to Myanmar – from where thousands of Rohingya have fled genocide – hit the headlines recently. Indian officials had taken the girl to a northeastern border town and started processing her papers, even as human rights groups had been pressing the government to rescind the order. Reports are now coming in of the central government having halted the deportation of the minor girl. The incident has brought sharp focus back on to the plight of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar who have been denied citizenship in their home country and as a result have lived in India as refugees for years. Since the takeover of power by the Narendra Modi government, instances of Rohingyas being considered a national security threat, detained, and threatened with deportation have increased manifold.
The girl’s father – who is living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh – has been appealing to the Indian government for the safe return of his daughter who had been initially detained in India enroute to Malaysia in search of a better life. Trouble ensued when the Indian government decided to deport her back to Myanmar disregarding the father’s appeals. After the halting of the deportation, the girl has been handed over to the refugee welfare group that had been providing food and shelter since her detention. “I am glad to learn that her deportation did not take place. Given the fact that her parents have escaped genocide in Myanmar and are living in a Bangladeshi refugee camp, India and UNHCR should help her unite with her family,” says Ali Johar, director of education of the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, adding that India could have violated Convention on the Rights of the Child and CEDAW if the deportation had taken place.