The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to file a comprehensive report on the conditions in Rohingya refugee camps across various states, particularly Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves claimed that the conditions at the camp are unhygienic and “filthiest to say the least”. Their report said that the poor and unhygienic conditions had led to several deaths of refugees living in these camps. The senior lawyer urged the apex court to direct the Centre and states to provide better hygienic facilities in these camps.
The Rohingya are the world’s biggest stateless ethnic group. There are about a million of them, most of who live in northern Rakhine.
They are Muslim by religion. Myanmar’s government does not recognize them as citizens, which results in their legalised persecution. There are numerous restrictions on them, including on their movement, access to the economy, education, health and other rights, which keep them in poverty and squalor.
The Rohingya crisis:
* Under Myanmar’s discriminatory 1982 citizenship law, only those who trace their residence in the country to before 1823, or those belonging to the majority Burman, or Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan ethnic groups, qualify for full citizenship.
* A list of another 135 ethnic groups, drawn up in 1982 and made public in 1990, did not include the Rohingya. Other categories of citizenship are technically open to Rohingya, but in practical terms, make their acceptance impossible.
* The Rohingya trace their origins in Rakhine to the 15th century or earlier. But the official name for them today is “Bengali”, intended to underline that they came to Rakhine as part of the British East India Company’s expansion into Burma after it defeated the Burmese king in 1826. (This is why 1823 is the cut-off date for both the 1948 and 1982 Citizenship Acts.)