India may not have signed the 1951 refugee convention, but it has more than 200,000 refugees currently living in the country, according to UNHCR.  And it all started with Partition.

In 1947, more than 7 million Hindu and Sikh people moved from Pakistan to India, and roughly the same number of people moved from India to Pakistan. It is one of the largest migrations in the history of human kind. Refugee camps were set up across the country, especially in Delhi and Amritsar to receive the refugees. At the same time, large portions of the Muslim community chose to stay in India, and large portions of the Hindu community chose to stay in Pakistan. 

Later, around 1959, around 100,000 Tibetan refugees followed the Dalai Lama to India, fearing for their lives. Many Tibetans had feared the Dalai Lama would be kidnapped by the Chinese, who control Tibet. When India allowed the Dalai Lama to take refuge in Dharamshala, tensions between China and India worsened. 

In 1968, the Chakma and Hajong communities from Bangladesh moved to Arunachal Pradesh. The Chakma, a Buddhist community, and the Hajong, a Hindu community, had to escape when their land was flooded by a dam project.

This was not the only time refugees from Bangladesh moved to India. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, 10 million people moved to India to escape Pakistani forces. Millions were affected by the war.

From 1979 to 1989, many Afghan refugees fled to India while Afghanistan was under Soviet invasion. Around 60,000 people escaped to India.

In the 80’s, India took in more than 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils who were escaping military attacks against the community.

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The most recent influx of refugees has mostly been of the Rohingya community. Though the Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing persecution and massacres in Myanmar for decades, more refugees started coming to India after a major military campaign in August 2017. More than 700,000 Rohingyas fled Myanmar at the time. Around 40,000 Rohingyas live in India. 

Over the last 70 years, India has become a home for those fleeing conflict in neighbouring countries. But since India doesn’t recognise many of these refugee communities, some fear they may not always be safe.