Indian authorities registering biometric data of Rohingya refugees in a planned deportation move
The local administration of Jammu and Kashmir in India has been instructed to begin capturing the biometric data of Rohingya Muslim refugees who have taken temporary residence in the city of Jammu for verification purposes.
Indian news outlet The Tribune reports that the verification process that began last Saturday at the MAM stadium in Jammu seeks to collect biometric information and other details of the refugees, including their place of stay.
Another report by AP quotes Jammu Police Inspector-General, Mukesh Singh, as saying the biometric identification process is part of a move to deport some of the about 5,000 refugees who have been living there for the past five years.
“All of them are illegally living here and we have begun identifying them. This process is to finally deport them to their country,” the police official told AP, adding that at least 168 Rohingyas have been sent to a holding center, pending the planned deportation.
The Rohingya are minority Muslim aborigines of Myanmar who have been fleeing their country because of socio-political persecution. UN figures indicate around 40,000 Rohingya refugees live in different parts of India.
The Tribune quoted some of the Rohingya refugees who took part in the exercise on Saturday as saying they were subjected to a coronavirus test before being asked by the administrative authorities to fill out forms. One of them, Abdul Hanan, told the media their fingerprints were also collected.
The biometric verification process for the refugees is coming on the heels of calls from some political parties and civil society organizations in the Jammu and Kashmir territory for the deportation of the Rohingya and Bangladeshis, according to The Tribune.
The report mentioned that those calling for the repatriation have been accusing the settlers of a “conspiracy to alter the demographic character” of the region and of being “a threat to the peace in the region.”
According to statistics from the Jammu and Kashmir administration, there are nearly 14,000 foreigners including Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi nationals taking refuge in the Jammu and Samba districts of India. Their population is said to have increased by more than 6,000 between 2008 and 2016.
More than half a million Rohingya refugees at the massive Cox’s Bazar camp in Bangladesh had been biometrically registered to verify their identities and assist humanitarian efforts as of August, 2019.