Rohingya Muslim boys from Myanmar study at the Madrasa, or Muslim religious school, at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Jammu, the winter capital of Kashmir, India, 21 February 2017. EFE-EPA/FILE/JAIPAL SINGH

Arrests, death of baby in detention center add to Rohingya woes in India

New Delhi, July 28 (EFE).- The arrest of 74 Rohingya refugees in India this week has sparked concerns regarding the treatment of the persecuted minority group in the country.

The Rohingyas were detained in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and accused of being illegal migrants, despite possessing documents identifying them as refugees issued by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

The incident occurred after the tragic death of a five-month-old baby in a detention center northern region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Approximately 270 members of the Rohingya group are being held in the same facility, and the baby’s death has been linked to tear gas fired by security forces during a protest by refugees.

Speaking to EFE, Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (ROHRINGYA) chief Sabber Kyaw Min expressed his concerns, stating that the 74 Rohingyas were arrested from Uttar Pradesh “for no reason” and authorities are incorrectly calling them as illegal migrants.

The Indian government has not yet commented on the arrests or the baby’s death, but these events have raised significant concerns about the treatment of Rohingya refugees in India.

India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, which means the government is not legally bound to protect refugees.

However, India has historically hosted refugees, and there are an estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees living in the country.

Sabber Kyaw Min fears that the Indian authorities are holding the Rohingyas in the aftermath of an anti-terror operation conducted by Uttar Pradesh police.

He said the UNHCR was attempting to engage with government authorities to secure their release, but the situation remains uncertain.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority group, have faced persecution in Myanmar for decades.

In 2017, the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya, leading to the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

The detention of 270 Rohingya refugees in Jammu and Kashmir for two years raises questions about the Indian government’s willingness to release them and the UNHCR’s ability to intervene.

According to the activist, the circumstances became more evident after the tragic death of the five-month-old baby at the center last week.

The daily Indian Express quoted relatives of the baby’s mother, alleging that the death resulted from security forces firing tear gas during a protest by Rohingya refugees.

The Superintendent of Police Shivdeep Singh Jamwal and the jail superintendent and officer incharge of the detention center have denied any connection between the baby’s death and tear gas usage, as reported by the Indian Express.

It’s worth noting that the Indian government attempted to deport Rohingya refugees detained in the northern region of Jammu and Kashmir in the past, but the plan was halted by the Supreme Court in 2021. EFE