NEW DELHI, Oct 4 - India on Thursday deported seven Rohingya men to neighbouring Myanmar over six years after they entered the country illegally and jailed, shortly after the Supreme Court paved the way for the first such action against the community.
The move sparked criticism from rights groups with Amnesty International alleging that the Indian government is conducting a �relentless smear� campaign against Rohingya immigrants and that it sets a �dangerous� precedent for all asylum seekers in the country.
The men, who are in the age bracket of 26-32 years, were detained in 2012. They were later lodged in Cachar Central Jail in Silchar in Assam after a court convicted them under the Foreigners Act, holding them as illegal immigrants.
Indian and Myanmar security officials exchanged documents before the deportation of the men on the India-Myanmar border at Moreh in Manipur.
Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority who have faced persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
�Seven Myanmarese nationals have been deported today. They were handed over to the authorities of Myanmar at Moreh border post in Manipur,� Assam Additional Director General of Police (Border) Bhaskar J Mahanta told PTI over phone.
Consular access had been given to Myanmar diplomats, who confirmed the identity of the immigrants, Mahanta said.
The confirmation of the Myanmarese citizenship of the illegal immigrants came after the government of the neighbouring country verified their addresses in Rakhine State and all of them were given travel documents by Myanmar, a Union Home Ministry official said. This is for the first time Rohingya immigrants were sent back to Myanmar from India, the official added.
The repatriation of the seven immigrants was arranged after �reconfirming� their willingness to return and with �full concurrence� of the Myanmarese government, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court refused to step in to stop the deportation by dismissing a plea against the government�s move.
The court said these Rohingya were convicted by the competent court under the Foreigners Act and were held to be as illegal immigrants.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph said that even the country of their origin Myanmar has identified them and accepted them as its citizens.
�Having considered the prayer, we would not like to interfere with the decision taken. The petition is dismissed,� the bench said. � PTI
Our Imphal Correspondent adds: The seven Rohingya who were caught for illegally entering into India, have been successfully deported to Myanmar via Manipur�s border town Moreh, about 110 km south of Imphal on Thursday, official sources said.
An Assistant Commandant of 6th battalion of Assam Police led personnel escorted the Myanmar nationals in two vehicles-one jeep and a bus from Silchar to Moreh via Jiribam district headquarters, 220 km west of Imphal on Wednesday. The team reached Imphal late in the night and proceed to Moreh only this morning.
Manipur police officer stationed at Moreh town when contacted said that the team arrived at the border town at around 10 in the morning. After their arrival, Sub Divisional Police Officer Mohurle Sandip Gopaldas of Moreh police station who is also the Immigration Officer formally handed over the Rohingya nationals to his Myanmar counterpart Maung Muang Tar led Myanmar police team from Tamu Township in Myanmar�s Saigang region, at the Myanmar Immigration Office located near gate number 2 bordering Moreh around 1:30 pm.