Guwahati: The fate of a 15 year old girl from Myanmar and currently residing in a shelter home in Assam will now be decided by the Centre. The minor girl, belonging to Myanmar’s Rohingya community and believed to be a victim of human trafficking, was rescued in Assam’s Cachar district in 2019.
Fled from Myanmar due to the volatile political situation and then separated from her family members, who were believed to be taking shelter in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, her deportation continued to remain a challenge for both state and Central government.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea of an NGO to unite the minor with her parents in the neighbouring country and asked the Centre to help her.
A Supreme Court bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian terming the situation very tricky observed that she cannot be deported to her country due to the war–torn situation there and it would also not be fair to leave the girl at the border. The court was hearing a plea filed by the NGO Global Peace Initiative, which was approached by the parents for help.
Earlier, Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also asked the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to allow her to go to her parents living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s bazar rather than send her to Myanmar.
On Wednesday, the apex court asked the Centre to step in and take a lead in resolving the issue observing that her safety should be prioritized in taking the steps.
A failed attempt:
In 2021, the MHA had sent a letter to the state authorities to deport her to Myanmar as she is a Rohingya.
Subsequently, a team of Assam Police from Cachar district took her to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur’s Moreh to hand her over to Myanmar authorities. However, the immigration department of the neighbouring country refused to open the gate of the international border saying that the situation is not appropriate for any deportation citing Covid19 situation.
Later, she was sent back to a shelter home in Assam’s Silchar.
How she ended up in Assam (India):
As per Cachar police, the minor girl was found in an unconscious condition at Rongpur area near Silchar town in 2019.
After rescuing her, the police handed her over to the Ujjala Shelter Home for Girls and Women for counselling. She stayed there for almost a year and was later sent to the Nivedita Nari Sanstha.
The trouble with making communication with her continued as she did not understand the local languages. However, with care and counseling, she reportedly has learnt Bengali and English quickly.
Sources in the shelter home also informed that she once indicated that she had gone to Bangladesh from her country with her parents, who were still living there.
However, she could not tell how she had arrived in India.
Several Myanmar nationals who illegally entered India were arrested in the last few years. Some of the detained Myanmar migrants were also deported in the last few years.
Till date, around 40 Myanmar nationals have been sent back from Assam and a few from Manipur as well since 2018. At present, 22 illegal Myanmar migrants were staying in detention centres inside Silchar central jail.