A Rohingya refugee family

As India faces censure for repatriating a Rohingya Muslim family to Myanmar last week, an official told AFP that dozens of Rohingyas have already fled India for Bangladesh in the past few days.

According to Bangladesh border officials and police, the fear of deportation to Myanmar has prompted the recent exodus and dozens of Rohingyas had been detained crossing from India in the past week.

Those detained have been sent to refugee camps in the country’s south.

“They told us they panicked after India started detaining Rohingya refugees and deporting them to Myanmar,” Shahjahan Kabir, a police chief in the eastern Bangladeshi border town of Brahmanpara, told AFP.

He said 17 Rohingya were detained last Thursday(3) after crossing into Bangladesh, followed by 31 at a different border point.

Many of them had been living in India for the past six years.

India drew criticism from rights groups last week after it sent a Rohingya family of five to Myanmar authorities. This forced return was the second in recent months.

Amnesty International, blasting India for forcibly repatriating the Rohingyas to Myanmar when persecution was going on, said the expulsion was a violation of India’s obligations under customary international law.

“The Rohingya population in Rakhine state in Myanmar continue to live under a system of apartheid,” Amnesty India’s Abhirr V P said in a statement cited by AFP.

“The expulsion of asylum-seekers and refugees amounts to a violation of India’s obligations under customary international law, which prohibits governments from returning people to a territory where they are at risk of serious human rights violations.”

As India is not signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, the country treats Rohingyas in the country as illegal immigrants rather than refugees.

According to Indian officials, around 40,000 Rohingya are living in the country, by only 18,000 are registered with the United Nations refugee agency.

Although Rohingyas have been living in the country without much trouble for a decade, Hindu hardliners have been calling for the mass deportation of Rohingya Muslims since 2017.

In 2017, the government ordered all states to identify and deport Rohingya, saying they were “more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organisations”.