The BJP-led Centre was “secretly” trying to give “permanent residence” to Rohingya refugees in the national capital, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday alleged, rejecting the Union home ministry’s claim that it was the Delhi government’s proposal.
He also said the Centre was in the morning calling the move to shift Rohingyas to EWS category flats in the city as its “achievement”, but later started shifting the blame on the Delhi government after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opposed it.
Without taking names, Sisodia alleged that the Delhi police and some officials had taken the decision to provide the Rohingyas permanent residence in the city on the instructions of Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena and at the behest of the Union government.
They were sending the proposal to Saxena for his approval without bringing it to the knowledge of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the city home minister, he added. Sisodia asserted that the Kejriwal dispensation will not let this "conspiracy” to illegally settle Rohingyas in Delhi succeed.
Amid a row over the issue, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a clarification denying any such move and said the Delhi government had proposed to shift the Rohingyas to a new location, but it has been directed to ensure the "illegal foreigners" remain in detention centres pending their extradition.
Reacting to the ministry’s statement, Sisodia said in a tweet in Hindi, “The central government, which was not tired of describing the news (about shifting of Rohingyas) as its achievement in the morning, has now started putting the responsibility of it on the Delhi government after the Aam Aadmi Party opposed such a step.
“Whereas it is a fact that the central government was secretly trying to give permanent residence to the Rohingyas in Delhi,” he added.
In another tweet, Sisodia said, “At the behest of the central government and on the instruction of the L-G, the officers and the police took decision (to shift Rohingyas) and it (the proposal) was being sent to L-G for his approval, without bringing it to the knowledge of the chief minister and home minister of Delhi.
"The Delhi government will not let this conspiracy to illegally settle Rohingyas in Delhi succeed," he added.
A political row erupted after Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri said Rohingya refugees will be shifted to apartments in Bakkarwala in outer Delhi and will also be provided basic amenities and police protection.
EWS (economically weaker section) flats have been constructed by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and are located in the Bakkarwala area near Tikri border.
"India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision all Rohingya Refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs & round-the-clock Delhi Police protection," Puri tweeted.
The minister also hit out at those who had criticised the country's refugee policy and said that such people would be disappointed with the move.
"Those who made a career out of spreading canards on India’s refugee policy deliberately linking it to CAA will be disappointed. India respects & follows UN Refugee Convention 1951 & provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed," Puri said in another tweet.
The ruling AAP in Delhi slammed the Centre over the move and termed shifting of Rohingyas a "big threat" to national security and Delhiites, saying it will not allow it to happen at any cost.
“With the minister’s announcement, the BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands exposed today... This poses a big threat to the national security and to the Delhiites as well,” AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said in a press conference, reacting to Puri's tweets.
“We the countrymen and Delhiites, at least, will not let them settle down here at any cost. No matter what the central government does, we will not let the government allocate flats to them,” he said. Bhardwaj said the prime minister may consider settling the refugees down in any of the BJP-ruled states if he wants.
"Give EWS flats, bungalows or whatever you want. We won't allow allocation of flats to them in Delhi at all," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)