Rohingya refugees look forward to Supreme Court verdict on 9 April, hope to get favourable ruling

Nurul Fazal, a 12-year-old Rohingya boy at Budena Gaon camp in New Delhi, is quite optimistic on the 9 April Supreme Court verdict.

"Those who come to help us have told that there is a case filed for us in the court to enable our stay here. I am praying to the Almighty that the verdict is in our favour so that we can stay back here safely," Nurul told Firstpost.

Rohingya refugees look forward to Supreme Court verdict on 9 April, hope to get favourable ruling

Nurul Fazal. Firstpost/Rejimon K

On behalf of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), a Left youth organisation, Subash Chandran, a lawyer at Supreme Court, has filed a case citing that as India has signed 1989 UN Convention for Rights of Child in 1992, it cannot deport the Rohingya children from India.

"As India has ratified the Convention, it will be the violation of Articles 2, 6, 7, 19, 20, 22, 31 and 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," said Chandran.

There are around 12,000 Rohingya children in refugee status living in India.

In August 2017, the government had announced that it was planning to deport all 40,000 Rohingya refugees living in the country.

On 18 September 2017, the government had told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that the continued illegal immigration of Rohingyas to India had "serious national security ramifications and threats".

It claimed that inputs from security agencies indicated that some of the refugees had links with terror groups in Pakistan.

The lawyer said that such deportation fully being aware and conscious that the people/children being would be killed in transit/on reaching the country of their origin also would amount to the violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed to such people under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

"Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child mandates the signatory state to uphold the spirit of all the articles in the Convention and to apply it regardless of child’s nationality even," the lawyer said adding that if the if he wins the case on children, then it will put the government in a fix.

"If the court says the government not to deport the children, then their parents also can stay back isn’t it?" the lawyer asked.

Nurul and his ten-member family, including three brothers, four sisters and father and mother, walked for seven continuous days to reach India.

"We were afraid of getting killed in Myanmar riots. Even though food, jobs for my parents, education for me and my siblings is a problem in India, at least we are safe here. We don’t want to go back," said Nurul.

Nurul and his family have UNHCR Refugee status card, however, they are being denied many facilities in India.

Avantika S Raj, a volunteer from Ubais Sainulabdeen Peace Foundation, said that they are trying hard to get basic facilities for the children but most of the time they fail.

"On Thursday, we tried to get school admission for Nurul and his friends. The government school has agreed to allow them to sit in the class but cannot be enrolled in the school list. Even though they have UNHCR Card, this is the situation," said Avantika.

Nurul and his family survive on collecting waste from the city, segregating it and sending it to waste management centres.

"They get paid for the work and also most of the time they find some food leftovers too from the waste they collect. It’s a sad state of life. But other than fighting for their right, there are limitations in helping them," the lawyer said.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Riyas, DYFI president, said that the whole gamut of their activities revolves around ‘Service To the Humanity’.

"Through this petition, we are trying to uphold the cause of humanity. We always stand with the downtrodden, the rights of women and the backward, weaker sections of the society irrespective class, caste, gender or nationality. Rohingyas need help. And we see it’s our responsibility to help them," Riyas said.

According to the lawyer, Article 14 of the Constitution of India mandates that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

"The above-said article guarantees the right to equality before the law and the equal treatment under the law to refugees in India. It is pertinent that Tibetans, the Chakmas of Bangladesh, Afghans and ethnic Tamil from Sri Lanka are among those given refuge in India. Tibetans who got asylum are one lakh in number. They can take land on lease and seek jobs in the private sector," Chandran said.

In 2016, the Central government had allowed Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to buy property for self-living, obtain driving licenses, and receive PAN and Aadhaar IDs, India.

"Then there is no rationale in discriminating the Rohingya refugees who are only around 40,000 in number," he said.

The lawyer is hopeful that on 9 April, the court will give the final verdict.

"The court has asked state’s response. If they don’t fail to send their response, then the issue is over," Chandran said.

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Updated Date: Apr 06, 2018 17:16:45 IST

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