India’s Refugee Crisis

India’s Refugee Crisis

India’s Refugee Crisis

By the beginning of 2010, the nation had taken in close to 450,000 refugees from both within and beyond the area. The refugee flood started with the partition of India in 1947.

India did not ratify either the 1967 Protocol on the Reputation of Refugees or the 1951 Refugee Conference. India has no laws governing refugees, therefore there is no standard way to treat refugees there.

However, the greater issue of human rights and humanitarian law, as well as other areas of international law, like State responsibility and peacekeeping, have grown to be inextricably interwoven with refugee law.

What is India’s current legal framework for handling refugees?

  • All foreigners, including those who enter the country illegally, seek asylum, or overstay their visas, are treated equally in India.
  • The Central government is authorised to find, arrest, and deport unauthorised foreign people under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act of 1946.
  • Article 258(1) of the Indian Constitution allows for the removal of an illegal foreigner by force, according to Section 5 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.
  • All foreign nationals (except Indian citizens living abroad) entering India on a long-term visa (more than 180 days) are required by law to register with a registration officer within 14 days of their arrival. This is in accordance with the Registration of Foreigners Act of 1939.
  • 1955’s Citizenship Act included provisions for citizenship renunciation, termination, and deprivation.
  • Additionally, the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) aims to offer citizenship solely to immigrants who were persecuted in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who are Hindu, Christian, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, or Buddhist.
  • India published a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that all relevant authorities must adhere to when interacting with foreign nationals who make refugee claims.
  • Additionally, the life, liberty, and dignity of every human being are respected by the Indian Constitution.
  • In National Human Rights Commission v. State of Arunachal Pradesh (1996), the Supreme Court ruled that while all rights are available to residents, everyone has the right to equality and the right to life. This includes foreign nationals.

How are refugees faring in India?

  • Since gaining its independence, India has taken in many different refugee groups from its neighbours, including: Pakistani Partition refugees in 1947.
  • Tibetan migrants who came in 1959.
  • Early 1960s: Chakma and Hajong from modern-day Bangladesh.
  • In 1965 and 1971, further Bangladeshi refugees.
  • Tamils from Sri Lanka who fled during the 1980s.
  • The most recent refugees from Myanmar were Rohingya in 2022.

Why does India not sign the 1951 Convention on Refugees?

  • Problem with the Refugee Definition: The 1951 agreement defines refugees as those who have been denied their economic rights, but not their civil or political rights.
  • It is obvious that the developed world would bear a heavy burden if the violation of economic rights were to be considered a refugee.
  • India believes that the 1951 treaty is mostly eurocentric and pays little attention to the South Asian nations. It will also have an impact on India’s domestic laws and safety.

What difficulties do refugees in India face?

  • Fear and Uncertainty: In society, refugees are not given much weight. They experience poor treatment from the locals and grow fearful and uneasy as a result.
  • Because they do not share the same soil as the locals, they are frequently physically and emotionally abused by them.
  • Lack of Basic Amenities: They struggle to obtain needs of life including food, housing, and job.
  • They are compelled to work for meagre pay with no special rights or status.
  • Lack of a Clear Plan for Their Protection: India’s Ad Hoc Administrative Policy on Refugees has Produced a Confusion of Environment.
  • Insecurity and exclusivity are caused by ignorance and misinformation within the refugee groups.
  • Time-consuming Identification Process: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issues a refugee card after determining the person’s refugee status, however this procedure is laborious and can take up to 20 months to complete.
  • If someone is apprehended by the police during that time, they will be imprisoned, arrested, and deported without even having access to the UNHCR.
  • Mislabeled as Immigrants: Over the past few decades, a large number of residents of nearby nations have entered India illegally, not as a result of government persecution but rather to benefit from the country’s better economic conditions.

What should be the next step?

  • Equitable and Effective Registration Procedure: Procedures for determining status should be made more equitable and effective while strengthening or maintaining standards in registration and identification.
  • Enhancing Basic Facilities: It is important to provide access to necessities and services.
  • These include expanding educational opportunities, supporting special needs programmes, and sustaining healthcare infrastructure.
  • Making local residents aware of the need to provide housing for refugees and increase their ability to rely on themselves by giving them a temporary source of income.
  • Providing for the Safety of Women and Children: In accordance with the Fundamental Duty contained in our Constitution, we must protect women and children who are refugees from violence and harassment on the part of locals or authorities.
  • Every citizen is required by Article 51A (e) to disavow actions that are disrespectful to women’s dignity.
  • Support in Emotions: A person becomes a refugee due to events that are out of their control.
  • He or she runs away because of political, socioeconomic, and human rights violations that make them fearful of being persecuted. In this case, in addition to financial support, we should strive to offer inclusivity and emotional support.

plutus ias current affairs eng med 24th August 2022

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