RRAG seeks repeal of CAA, calls for enactment of refugee law

NEW DELHI, 30 Nov: Following the repeal of the farm laws, the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) on Tuesday urged the Centre 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 into India prior to 31 December, 2014. It further excludes the refugees, including the minorities, from the neighbouring countries, including those who fled to India after 31 December, 2014. The influx of refugees belonging to the Muslim and religious minorities from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover on 15 August, 2021 proves that India needs a refugee law and not the CAA,” said RRAG director Suhas Chakma in a letter to union Home Minister Amit Shah.

India currently has about 3,50,000 refugees who do not have protection from potential deportation, depending on geopolitical or domestic political considerations. The refugees include 2,10,548 refugees who are given recognition either by the government of India or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ie, 95,829 Sri Lankan refugees, 73,404 Tibetan refugees, 22,459 UNHCR recognized Myanmarese, 15,217 UNHCR recognized Afghan refugees and 3,639 UNHCR recognized refugees from other countries and about 1,50,000 unrecognized refugees, ie, over 1,00,000 Chin refugees from Myanmar who fled after the 1989 military takeover; 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, the RRAG stated in a release.

“Unless the government of India 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 said.

Castigating the “discriminatory policies of the government of India towards the refugees,” Chakma stated, “While the state government of Mizoram 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, he said, the government of India had sanctioned grant-in-aid of Rs 40 crores from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for the Tibetan refugees and Rs 1,021 crores 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 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,” Chakma said.