Indian police have arrested 74 Rohingya refugees for living “illegally” in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in a move activists condemned as an arbitrary crackdown on people fleeing violence.
According to international media reports, the members of the mainly Muslim Rohingya community were detained in six towns and cities in the state and 10 of the refugees were juveniles.
Those arrested included 55 men, 14 women and five children who were living in six districts of Uttar Pradesh “after crossing the border illegally”, Indian police said in a statement.
The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative campaign group said the detained people had been living in the area for about 10 years after fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
As per reports, many had been doing manual labour including rubbish collection, Initiative director Sabber Kyaw Min said. “They have been only demanding refuge,” he added.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to countries including Bangladesh, which borders India, after Myanmar’s military killed tens of thousands of people belonging to the minority community, raped women and burned dozens of their villages.
The United Nations said the military campaign against the Rohingya was carried out with “genocidal intent” and some of the military generals are facing a genocide trial at the International Court of Justice.
Approximately 18,000 Rohingya lived in India as of early last year, according to Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, with ongoing cases in the Supreme Court against their deportation.
Rohingya activists in India have campaigned against the arrests, urging the government to uphold commitments to human rights and democratic credentials.