Housing minister promises flats for Rohingyas in Delhi, home ministry says no such order

Hours after Union housing minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced on Wedensday that Rohingya refugees will be shifted to flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that it had not given any such directions.

The ministry, in a series of tweets, said: “Govt of Delhi proposed to shift the Rohingyas to a new location. MHA has directed the GNCTD to ensure that the Rohingya illegal foreigners will continue at the present location as MHA has already taken up the matter of their deportation with the concerned country through MEA.”

The home ministry’s stance on the matter comes as a U-turn as earlier on Wednesday morning, Puri had said in a tweet that all Rohingya refugees will be shifted to flats designated for economically weaker sections in Delhi’s Bakkarwala.

Puri had tweeted Wednesday morning: “India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision all Rohingya refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs and round-the-clock Delhi Police protection.”

“Those who made a career out of spreading canards on India’s refugee policy deliberately linking it to CAA will be disappointed. India respects and follows UN Refugee Convention 1951 and provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed,” he added in another tweet.

Rohingya refugees have been living in Madanpur Khadar and Kalindi Kunj for the past decade. Their dwellings were gutted in fire twice – in 2018 and 2021 – and they have since been living in tents provided by the Delhi government.

In a series of tweets, the MHA said that the Delhi government had made a proposal to shift the Rohingya refugees living in the city to a new location. However, the Delhi government has been asked to keep the refugees at their current location itself as the matter of their deportation to Myanmar is under process through the external affairs ministry, the home ministry said.

“Illegal foreigners are to be kept in detention centre till their deportation as per law,” the ministry also tweeted. “The government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a detention centre. They have been directed to do the same immediately.”

Approximately 40,000 Rohingya live in India after the brutal crackdown by the Myanmar army in 2017 where thousands were killed.

Since October 2018, the Indian authorities have threatened to deport Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar despite risks to their lives and security.

The Indian government has continued to call the Rohingya refugees “illegal immigrants” and a “threat to national security”.

A public anti-Rohingya campaign by Hindu nationalist groups, claiming that the Rohingya Muslims are “terrorists,” has incited vigilante-style violence, including arson attacks on the homes of Rohingya in Jammu and Delhi.

In 2018 following a fire in a Rohingya settlement in Delhi that burned at least 50 homes, a leader from the youth wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party applauded the action on Twitter, saying “Well done by our heroes…Yes, we burnt the houses of Rohingya terrorists.”