The hullabaloo over UK’s refugee policy

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The hullabaloo over UK’s refugee policy

Tuesday, 21 March 2023 | Saradindu Mukherji

The hullabaloo over UK’s refugee policy

There’s been a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers to Britain. PM Rishi Sunak is trying to put a timely end to the impending danger

The outcry over the latest Refugee/Asylum Bill in Britain was not unexpected. The Indian media has not remained unaffectd. Incidentally, even a fraction of this “concern” is seldom seen in the latter's coverage of genuine refugees fleeing to India — victims of religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan!

The website of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) indicates that it "is profoundly concerned by the asylum Bill introduced by the UK Government in the House of Commons” . It further stated, “The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban-extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the U.K. for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine or compelling their claims may be”. It further  urged,  “the Government, to all MPs and Peers to reconsider the Bill and instead pursue a more humane and  practical policy solution”.  

Be that as it may, the ground reality is that there has been a sharp increase in the number of small boat arrivals on British shores in recent times. All of them have sought asylum in the country. In the year ending September 2022, the UK received 72,027 asylum applications. This is double the number of applicants received in 2019. Add to this the number of unresolved cases. In the critical backdrop of the UK's  declining Christian population and a sudden upsurge in the Muslim population, it assumes a serious complexion. These are the real causes of concern.

Since the 1950s, there have been many legal and illegal immigrants who have settled down in English and have done well. Most of them have complied with the norms of the host community. As against them, there have been a growing number of Islamic terrorist activities, targeting the sons of the soil and their civilizational values. One would do well to recall, among many, the activities of the ISIS bride Shamima Begum, who had been stripped of her British citizenship and the forceful campaign in her favour by numerous Britishers including the B.B.C. There are areas in London and the midlands, which make one feel as if they have been transported to a strange, unfamiliar territory, resembling more of a Pakistani and Bangladeshi ghetto.

In the early 1990s, a “Muslim Parliament” had been set up in Britain and had been clamouring for absurd favours including the introduction of Sharia! This writer pointed out this emerging threat thirty years ago. ( “Muslim Parliament in Secular Britain”, The Pioneer, 7 Feb 1992: “Islamic Assertion in Britain”, The Pioneer, 30 June 1995) 

They carry with them the medieval religious-social-political norms of their original homeland that were notorious for inhumane treatment of religious minorities. Then, there are the crimes committed by the Muslim grooming gangs who have played systematic havoc with the British white girls besides many Hindu/ Sikh girls, unfortunately abetted by the British society on the pretext of multiculturalism that has generally failed. Integration of such a sizable and viciously ungrateful segment of the population into the mainstream was a non-starter to begin with.

After all, the UK, is a sovereign nation and its political culture is shaped by the ideas of Hobbes- who had enunciated the concept of untrammeled sovereignty ( Leviathan, 1561) which came to be tempered by the liberal ideas of John Lock and the subsequent political revolutions and remedial parliamentary legislations. While its claim to “civilizing mission” in its erstwhile colonies, when the Sun had not yet set on the British Empire, need not be taken seriously, it is absurd to demand that every refugee/asylum seeker entering Britain by hook or crook is entitled to stay back and enjoy all the benefits of a welfare state free of cost. Those who find this Nazi like may have to revise their knowledge of some rudimentary history !

Rishi Sunak, and his Conservative Party may have correctly sensed the nature of the impending danger, and are now trying to put a timely end to it.  Surely, the number of their sympathisers in Britain and elsewhere in the civilised world would increase. Sunak belongs to a Hindu family that once lived in a part of undivided India which is now in Pakistan. Unlike many of India’s political classes, he must be aware of the disastrous consequences of a changing religious demographic. There is still a solution to the problem in Whitehall even without Palmerston and Disraeli.

Following the mass expulsion of Asians by Idi Amin from Kenya, their rehabilitation in Britain was both legal and justified, and so is the status of the asylum seekers from Hong Kong, which had been a Crown colony till it was returned to China, and inhabitants of the Falkland islands for which the “Iron Lady” had fought with Argentina.

It is high time that the UNHCR and its parent bodies extinguish the very roots of this malady in the countries of origin — the persecution of religious minorities and their flight across boundaries. Why should they not   begin with   India’s neighborhood? That should be a top priority for any non-political and impartial humanitarian agency.

(The author is a Member of the ICHR)

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