Rights watchdog urges India to release Rohingya 'unconditionally'

Rights watchdog urges India to release Rohingya 'unconditionally'

Authorities in northern Indian state arrested 74 Rohingya this month, according to police

By SM Najmus Sakib

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Amid a crackdown on Rohingya community members, a rights group on Friday urged the Indian government to "immediately and unconditionally" release the refugees detained in India.

At least 74 Rohingya migrants were arrested in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh this month, according to the country's police.

Demanding an end to the "arbitrary arrest and detention of refugees," Fortify Rights, in a statement, said the government should also "investigate violations within its detention facilities and hold officials found responsible to account."

Citing a new investigation, the group said it has "documented evidence of Indian authorities beating Rohingya refugees, denying them due rights, and indefinitely detaining hundreds, in some cases for several years."

It said Indian authorities have detained Rohingya refugees in New Delhi, Jammu, Manipur, and Assam for immigration-related offenses.

New Delhi has not reacted to the allegations made by the group so far.

"The Indian government must end its indefinite detention of refugees and investigate the violent crackdown and beatings of Rohingya refugees in detention,” said Zaw Win, human rights specialist at Fortify Rights.

“No one should be imprisoned for being a refugee – a status no one willingly chooses. Indian authorities must protect Rohingya who have fled an ongoing genocide in Myanmar.”

Activists also urged India to launch an investigation into the death of a 5-month-old Rohingya girl in detention this month.

The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, an advocacy group, alleged that the girl died after failing to receive treatment due to inhalation of teargas last week in Jammu province.

Police, however, maintained that the child died of an ailment and not in the clashes between the detainees and the police at the Hiranagar jail in Jammu province, now operating as a holding center.

Hundreds of Rohingya are living in India, with activists campaigning against the arrests, urging the government to uphold commitments to human rights and democratic credentials.

In 2021, India's top court refused to stay the deportation of Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar, directing the government to follow the prescribed procedure for their deportation.

In March this year, Human Rights Watch said India, since October 2018, has deported 12 Rohingya to Myanmar, claiming that they left voluntarily.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya were killed and thousands of women and girls were raped when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in Rakhine State in August 2017.

More than 1.2 million Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, were forced to flee, who now stay in Bangladesh.

There are about 40,000 Rohingya in India with 20,000 registered with the UN refugee agency.

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