NEW DELHI -- Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday slammed attempts to brand India as a "villain" on the Rohingya refugee issue, saying it was a "calibrated design" to tarnish the country's image.
The Union minister of state for home's comments came two days after UN human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein flayed any attempts by India to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Rijiju said criticism of India on the Rohingyas, who have entered India illegally, undermines the country's security.
The central government is planning to deport Rohingya Muslims, who have come to India due to alleged persecution in Myanmar, as it considers them as illegal immigrants.
Rijiju had earlier said the Rohingyas were illegal immigrants and stand to be deported.
He had also said that India has absorbed the maximum number of refugees in the world.
The Minister had said no one should try to "demonise" India as a country hostile to refugees as it is not going to "throw" the Rohingyas into the "ocean" or "shoot" them but will follow due process of law before their identification and deportation.
The issue came to the fore after the Union home ministry in July had said illegal immigrants like the Rohingyas pose grave security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups, and asked state governments to identify and deport them.
The ministry told all state governments that the infiltration of Rohingyas from Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory, especially in recent years, besides being a burden on the limited resources of the country also aggravates security challenges posed to India.
The government told Parliament on August 9 that according to available data, more than 14,000 Rohingyas, registered with the UNHCR, are presently staying in India.
However, some inputs indicate that around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying in India illegally and the Rohingyas are largely located in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.
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