By LE Desk

New Delhi, March 24: The Supreme Court will on Thursday hear a petition seeking release and protection of over 150 Rohingya refugees in Jammu and Kashmir. The union territory’s administration has said it will work on their deportation to Myanmar.

The petition will be heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. Last week, the bench asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta to come with a response to the plea, the Hindustan Times reported.

The intervention application has been filed by Mohammad Salimullah, a Rohingya refugee, through advocate Prashant Bhushan. It also seeks direction to Ministry of Home Affairs to expeditiously grant refugee identification cards through the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to the Rohingyas in the informal camps.

The plea said that it is filed to protect rights guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 21, read with Article 51(c) of the Constitution, against the deportation of Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in India after escaping widespread violence and discrimination against their community in their home country Myanmar.

It sought direction to the Union government to refrain from implementing any orders on deporting the Rohingya refugees, who have been detained in Jammu. “There is a military government in Myanmar now. Their life is under threat,” said Bhushan, requesting an urgent hearing of the plea. He was referring to the latest military coup in Myanmar in February.

According to official documents from the office of deputy commissioner of Jammu, there are 6,523 Rohingya in Jammu, the petitioner said.

The Jammu & Kashmir administration began the process of identifying undocumented immigrants on March 6. Over 150 of them were sent to a holding centre under the Foreigners Act. Officials insisted due process of law was followed and added the immigrants sent to the centre did not carry any valid travel documents.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2017 to escape persecution and many of them have been staying in the union territory. The UN has called a Myanmar army’s campaign against the Rohingya “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

On January 10, last year, the top court had said that it would hear in detail, a batch of pleas challenging the Centre’s decision to deport illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants to Myanmar.

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