Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted details of a supposed controversial decision that was somehow bound to irritate the ruling party’s supporters. Hardeep Singh Pur, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, tweeted that India respects and adheres to the 1951 Refugee Convention and that as a result, it will provide shelter (EWS flats) and round-the-clock police protection to 1,100 Rohingya ‘refugees.’
He tweeted, “India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision all #Rohingya #Refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs & round-the-clock Delhi Police protection.
Puri’s announcement shocked many because the Centre had previously maintained a dismissive attitude toward Rohingya refugees, even labelling them a security threat. It has consistently pushed for their repatriation to Myanmar and has even held talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure the repatriation of these refugees.
Following the tweet, many on the internet started claiming that the central government led by Narendra Modi is providing accommodation to Rohingya immigrants whom once the Indian government considered “illegal”.
Many on the internet tried to remind the central government of its stance on the matter of Rohingya refugees.
During a debate in Lok Sabha on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah stated unequivocally that Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar will never be accepted as citizens of India. Shah said, “Rohingyas will never be accepted as citizens of India. They infiltrated India through Bangladesh. They came from Myanmar”, Shah apprised the Lok Sabha.
Many on the internet have started claiming that the Indian government is now providing free EWS houses to all the Rohingya refugees. Anand Ranganathan, consulting editor at Swarajya said on Twitter, “These Pak Hindu refugees, escaping conversion, rape, murder, have been dumped in a Delhi slum since 2013. No power. No school. No clinic. No park. No proper toilet. No free EWS housing like for Rohingyas”, in a bid to attack the government for its stance on Rohingya migrants.
“My people (Bengali Hindus) are detained in the detention camps and Rohingyas are provided EWS flats. I’m not very shocked but I’ll request all my capable friends to come forward, dynamics shuffling means you’ll be in power. Pic: detention camps in Assam run by the Govt. of India”, another Twitter user posted.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu organization also incensed at the decision of the Indian government and urge the government to push out all the Rohingyas in a tweet. The central working president of the organization posted a video on Twitter asking the government to deport all Rohingyas.
He also issued a press release. In the PR, he said, “Rohingyas are not refugees but infiltrators,” and also claimed that Rohingyas are being shifted to EWS flats.
As soon as Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted about the accommodation of Rohingyas refugees, netizens started claiming that the central government is giving accommodation to Rohingya refugees living in Delhi’s Bakkarwala in line with the minister’s tweet.
After the massive outrage over the issue of Rohingya refugees’ accommodation, the Ministry of Home Affairs took the charge to handle the mess. In a series of tweets, the government clarified that “it has not given any directions to provide EWS flats to Rohingya illegal migrants.”
The ministry tweeted, “With respect to news reports in certain sections of the media regarding Rohingya illegal foreigners, it is clarified that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has not given any directions to provide EWS flats to Rohingya illegal migrants at Bakkarwala in New Delhi.
It further added, “Government of Delhi proposed to shift the Rohingyas to a new location. MHA has directed the Government of Delhi to ensure that the Rohingya illegal foreigners will continue at the present location at Kanchan Kunj, Madanpur Khadar as MHA has already taken up the matter of deportation of illegal foreigners with the concerned country through the Ministry of External Affairs.”
“Illegal foreigners are to be kept in the Detention Centre till their deportation as per law. The Government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a Detention Centre. They have been directed to do the same immediately”, the MHA said.
As MHA has denied the claims by many on the internet, including its own minister, the claims of providing accommodation to the Rohingya refugees are false and not in line with the government’s policy on Rohingya refugees.