India's Home Ministry says the persecuted Rohingya Muslim refugees in New Delhi will be held at a detention center and then expelled.
The ministry said in a recent statement the “Rohingya illegal foreigners” would remain at a locality as authorities worked to deport them.
"Illegal foreigners are to be kept in the detention center till their deportation as per law," the statement read. "The Government of Delhi has not declared the present location as a detention center. They have been directed to do the same immediately."
The announcement contradicts an earlier statement promising shelter and security to the Muslim refugees from Myanmar.
On Wednesday, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s federal minister for housing and urban affairs, said Rohingya refugees would be allotted flats in western Delhi and round-the-clock police protection.
As of early this year, around 1,100 Rohingya lived in Delhi and another 17,000 elsewhere in India. Most of the refugees work as daily wagers to make a living.
Rohingya rights activist Ali Johar, who moved to India a decade ago, said some 2,000 Rohingya had left for Bangladesh this year, amid fears of being deported.
The activist underlined fears among the community, which has faced the ire of some Indian right-wing Hindu groups, that the new facilities could be used to enclose the Rohingya.
"If it turns out to be a detention camp, that will be a nightmare for us."
The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has previously tried to repatriate members of the Rohingya, who are a minority community in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet recently said it remains unsafe for Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, nearly five years after a crackdown there sparked an exodus to neighboring Bangladesh.
In 2017, the Myanmar military began a brutal crackdown that sent about 800,000 of Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.
The Rohingya have for decades fled to neighboring Bangladesh and other countries including India. However, since the emergence of Hindu nationalist government in India, the destitute community has become victims of an expulsion campaign.
Over the past few years, the community has been in utter distress.
All they want is a peaceful survival in the ‘world’s largest democracy’ till the situation gets conducive in their country.