India's top court is hearing an appeal lodged on behalf of Rohingya against the Hindu nationalist government's plan to deport refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims are said to be to in India.

A family from the Rohingya community inside their shack at a camp in New Delhi, India, August 17, 2017.
A family from the Rohingya community inside their shack at a camp in New Delhi, India, August 17, 2017. (Reuters)

India's home ministry said in court on Monday it would confidentially share intelligence information with the Supreme Court showing Rohingya links with Pakistan-based militants, in a bid to get legal clearance for plans to deport 40,000 Rohingya Muslims.

The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal lodged on behalf of Rohingya refugees against the deportation plan proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government.

The ministry is arguing that the hardline stance was justified by the national security threat posed by Rohingya refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, from where many have crossed into India.

"It is submitted that continuance of Rohingyas' illegal immigration into India and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, is found to be having serious national security ramifications and has serious security threats," the ministry told the court in an affidavit.

The August influx

The affidavit said the influx of large numbers of Rohingya Muslims into India began four to five years ago, long before an exodus that saw close to 410,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh since August 25 to escape a Myanmar military counter-insurgency offensive that the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing".

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who filed the plea on behalf of two Rohingya men, will file a rejoinder to the government's affidavit, his office told Reuters.

Bhushan also called the government's move "religious discrimination."

"Unfairly" accused of collusion with militants

Rohingya in India voiced worries that they were being unfairly tainted by the allegations and sought more understanding for their plight.

"We feel helpless and hopeless," said Rohingya youth leader Ali Johar, who came to India in 2012 and lives with his family in a Delhi settlement.

"The world's largest democracy has given us shelter but they should handle this situation more empathetically."

Modi's government has been criticised by activists for not speaking out against Myanmar's recent military offensive against Rohingya insurgents, and right-wing groups in India have begun vilifying Rohingya living there.

TRT World's Radhika Bajaj reports from a refugee camp in New Delhi.

The court will next hear the matter on October 3.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and regarded as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots that date back centuries. More than 800,000 Rohingya currently live in Bangladesh.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies