Biometrics for Rohingyas: Experts feel this is aimed at evicting them

Pallavi Sareen. Dated: 6/11/2018 9:03:49 AM

JAMMU, June 10: Union Ministry’s order for country-wide process to collect biometric information of all the Rohingya refugees is aimed at hastening the extradition of the Rohingyas Muslims living in various parts of the country including Jammu and Kashmir, experts feel. They opine that such a pool of biometrics can used to systemically evict them.
The home ministry order dated June 2, 2018, has asked all the state governments including J&K where Rohingya Muslim refugees are residing to carry out their biometrics survey. Designed on the pattern of Aadhar, the biometrics would include collection of all the details of every individual alongside finger-scanning and eye-scanning.
UMHA has asked the state governments to find out the exact names, residential addresses, the name of relatives still living in Myanmar, route taken from Myanmar to reach India, employment status, marital status and details of other family members. The Ministry has asked the respective state governments including Jammu and Kashmir to do the entire exercise meticulously and ensure that no Rohingya Muslim is left behind in the biometric survey.
Sources further said that the Ministry has verbally cautioned the Home Departments of the various states where the Rohingyas are staying, which includes Jammu and Kashmir to desist from taking a non-serious approach in this issue which the Ministry has sought to classify as “an issue of highest national importance”. Sources in the State Home Ministry confirmed that they have received the communication from the Union Ministry of the Home Affairs.
“We have received the communication. The process of the biometric survey of Rohingya refugees would begin soon,” said an official of the Home Department. He refused to share any further details about the biometric survey.
On being asked about the Nodal Office which would be tasked to carry out the biometric survey, a source in the state government said, “It will either be the District Police or the CID Department of Jammu & Kashmir police.”
However, a legal expert in the Supreme Court, Advocate Shah Faisal said, “The biometrics that is happening, it is the government’s way of being obssessive about their deportation. Though India is not a signatory to the International convention, it has always respected the laws and extradition cannot happen like this. The first reason is that the case is going on in Supreme Court.”
He further said, “Legally the UNHCR Mandate dictates that the repatriation of refugees of a country must be voluntary, safe and dignified.
Talking about the situation in Myanmar, he said, “The information we have right now from Myanmar means that they are still not safe there. Government is talking to Myanmar, we understand it, but the situation in Myanmar is still dangerous. Yet, if the situation goes good, they will not be refugees legally. Then they will be immigrants. Yet, what about the Rohingya women and children? Their rights have to be kept in mind.”
Though India is not a signatory to 1951 UN convention of refugees but it does adhere to CRC (Convention on Rights of Child) and CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women).
He further added, “Biometrics means that they have started laying the groundwork and wants them to be extradited as soon as possible.”
Noted academic and assistant professor in Jammu University, Ellora Puri said, “There is this insecurity which has come with the masculine nature of Nationalism in the past few years which is very exclusive in nature and majoritarian and has a certain element of communalism attached to it. It is community-led majoritarism and reflects the changes which have happened in the society and the non-acceptance of people outside especially when the Muslim tag is attached. It is very nativist kind of sentiment which has risen in India in the past few years and of course, that becomes a problem and that is why they (the Rohingyas) are being focused upon.”
She also said, “The government is encouraging such majoritarian sentiments because there are certain parties sitting in the government at this point in time which is the reason for this ideology too but the fact of the matter is that if it had been any other party too, this would have been case, because there is this nativist kind of sentiment across India.”



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