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Son of Union minister Maneka Gandhi and MP from Sultanpur, Varun called for “empathy, leading potentially to asylum” for Rohingya refugees

Days after the Centre told the Supreme Court that it considered Rohingya refugees from Myanmar as “illegal immigrants” and a “threat to national security”, Varun Gandhi, BJP MP from Sultanpur and son of Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi, called for empathy for the persecuted ethnic minority and grant of asylum to them by India.

Predictably, Varun’s party that now rules the country and never fails to assert that it is the only guardian of India’s integrity and interest isn’t happy.

Varun had in an editorial for Hindi daily Navbharat Times digressed from his party and the Centre’s official line on the Rohingya refugees and demanded that the near 40000 members of the ethnic minority that have fled their homes to India should not be deported to Myanmar.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government is currently embroiled in a legal battle in the Supreme Court over a petition filed by two Rohingya refugees. The Centre has been pushing for deportation of all Rohingya refuges back to Myanmar at a time when the international community has been slamming the effort along with the continued killings of the ethnic minority in its homeland.

Clearly unhappy with Varun’s comments on the issue, Union minister of state for home affairs, Hansraj Ahir, said that the Sultanpur MP’s views were “against national interest”.

Varun’s editorial made a sound argument for granting asylum to Rohingya refugees in India. He cited several international sources to describe the Rohingya refugees as victims of foreign policy and domestic politics. The 37-year-old MP also contradicted the Centre’s stand – that since India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention treaty it doesn’t need to grant asylum to Rohingyas – and said that India has subscribed to the regional SAARC Terrorism Protocol treaty, where Article 17 says that the country will not deport anyone who may be persecuted due to their faith.

However, Ahir dismissed Varun’s argument, saying: “Anyone who cares about national interest will never give such a statement.”

The Sultanpur MP then took to Twitter to put across his view on the issue but did not succumb to the pressure from Ahir’s comments.

It wasn’t just the BJP government that was unhappy with Varun over his comments. The government’s huge army of sympathizers – trolls on Twitter – was agitated too and attacked the BJP MP.

Jagrati Shukla, the former Zee Media employee who had made extremely derogatory and unsavoury remarks about senior journalist Gauri Lankesh when she was murdered in Bengaluru recently and also against those who were protesting against the killing, didn’t let the BJP down and hit out at Varun.

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