Reacting to Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that the Rohingyas are illegal immigrants because they never applied for refugee status, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Dr Shashi Tharoor on Friday said the government’s stance was ‘absolutely cruel’ because India doesn’t have any legal means for applying to be a refugee.
“How can you blame the Rohingyas for something for which there is no mechanism?” asked Tharoor, who was speaking at an event organised by All India Professionals’ Congress in the city.
Tharoor, the former undersecretary general of the United Nations, who started his diplomatic career with the UNHCR, also said, “I have been advocating for a refugee and asylum law but this government has been reluctant to take these steps.”
In 2015, Tharoor flagged the need for India to have a legal policy and framework to deal with refugees and asylum seekers by introducing ‘The Asylum Bill’. However, the bill is yet to be taken up for consideration.
He implored the government to have a refugee and asylum law so that there is at least a way of determining a refugee from an illegal immigrant
Known to be a prolific speaker who doesn’t mince his words, Tharoor, who under the Manmohan Singh's prime ministership was the minister of state for external affairs, did not hold back from criticising the present government on a number of policy stances.
He claimed that under BJP more people have dropped below the poverty line in comparison to the 10 years of the UPA government where 10 million people, every year, made it out of the BPL.
Tharoor also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of providing 2 crore jobs per year, where in reality, he said, and as per government figures, “Modi has never been able to provide more than 1,13,000 jobs per year.”
Tharoor also remarked on the recent increase in petrol and diesel prices. “The prime minister who gave speeches attacking the prices of petrol and diesel has managed to raise the prices of petrol and diesel in India, while the global prices have plummeted,” said Tharoor.