India police probe Twitter claim over fire at Rohingya camp

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police are investigating a fire that destroyed a Rohingya Muslim settlement in New Delhi last weekend after a Twitter user claimed responsibility for setting the blaze.

A man walks through the site after a fire broke out in a Rohingya camp in New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018. Picture taken April 15, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

About 40,000 Rohingya from Myanmar have settled in India in recent years after fleeing violence, persecution and poverty at home.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has taken a tough stance on them since coming to power in 2014, calling them a security threat who should be deported.

The fire started early on Sunday and engulfed the shantytown, forcing its 226 residents to flee. No one was hurt but many of the Rohingya lost U.N. refugee documents.

It was the fourth fire in the settlement in six years and police said they were investigating its cause and the claim of responsibility.

“This is an open-ended investigation and we are looking into the Twitter matter,” Chinmoy Biswal, a deputy commissioner of police, told Reuters.

“We are trying to find out more.”

Delhi lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Thursday filed a complaint asking police to investigate the Twitter user who claimed responsibility for torching the houses of the “terrorists”.

The tweet was later deleted.

Rohingya in India live mainly in Jammu, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi in the north, Hyderabad in the south, and Rajasthan in the west.

They face suspicion and resentment from many Indians at a time of simmering tension between some members of India’s majority Hindu community and its Muslim minority.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since a Myanmar military crackdown in response to Rohingya militant attacks last August.

The government of India is concerned that Rohingya might try to enter illegally from Bangladesh.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Darren Schuettler