Following the repeal of the farm laws on Monday, the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) called upon the Government of India to repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 and instead, enact an all-encompassing refugee law to protect the refugees fleeing to India to escape persecution.

“The CAA has been an absolute failure. It does not protect even the refugees belonging to religious minorities from neighbouring countries who had entered India prior to December 31, 2014. It further excludes the refugees including the minorities from the neighbouring countries including who fled to India after 31 December 2014. The influx of refugees belonging to the Muslims and religious minorities from Afghanistan following the Taliban take over on 15th August 2021 proves that India needs a refugee law and not the CAA,” stated Suhas Chakma, RRAG director, in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

India currently has about 3.5 lakh refugees who do not have protection from potential deportation depending on the geopolitical or domestic political considerations.

The refugees include 210,548 refugees who are given recognition either by the Government of India or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) i.e. 95,829 Sri Lankan refugees, 73,404 Tibetan refugees, 22,459 UNHCR recognised Myanmarese, 15,217 UNHCR recognized Afghan refugees and 3,639 UNHCR recognized refugees from other countries and about 150,000 unrecognised refugees i.e. over 1,00,000 Chin refugees from Myanmar who fled after 1989 military take over; about 15,500 Chin refugees who crossed over to Mizoram since the military seized power on 1 February 2021, and about 20,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees across the country.

“Unless the Government enacts a refugee law to process the claims, the asylum seekers shall remain undocumented and unregistered, and this does not address either security concerns or provides the possibility to return to their country of origin,” Chakma added.

Castigating discriminatory policies of the government towards the refugees, Chakma stated, “While the Mizoram government has been allowed to extend necessary humanitarian assistance to about 15,000 Chin refugees from Myanmar who fled since 1 February 2021, the Rohingya refugees continue to face arrest and detention for illegal entry into India.”

Further, the government had sanctioned grant-in-aid of Rs 40 crore from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for the Tibetan refugees and Rs 1021 crore for providing relief and accommodation to the Sri Lankan refugees between July 1983 and 31 December 2020 but no such assistance has been provided to the Chin refugees from Myanmar.

“India was born out of partition in 1947 that witnessed the movement of the largest number of refugees in the 20th century. However, instead of enacting a refugee law, the government enacted the CAA whose rules could not be framed. The government ought to accept its failure with the CAA, repeal it and enact an all-encompassing law on refugees,” said Chakma.

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