The most recent spate of violence in Myanmar’s southwestern Rakhine state broke out on Aug. 25, when Rohingya militants attacked local security forces, killing at least 71. The attack mirrored a similar one in October last that killed nine border police personnel. This attack of August 25 also announced to the world the coming of age of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a terror outfit led by Ata Ullah, a Rohingya man born in Karachi and brought up in Mecca. But that is not the insurgency’s only Pakistan connection. Myanmarese, Bangladeshi and Indian intelligence agencies have found Pakistan’s terror groups hiring Rohingyas from Bangladesh’s refugee camps, training and arming them. Groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba are already out shopping.
Against this backdrop, it is not just wise but urgent for India to deport 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees whom it has identified as illegal immigrants. There is a clear and present social, economic and security danger. And if India does not set down the rules of the game right now, it will be difficult to argue against and stop influx later.
There are an estimated one million Rohingyas living in Myanmar, and up to another million refugees abroad. The majority are Muslim while a minority are Hindu. Described by the United Nations in 2013 as one of the most persecuted communities in the world, the Rohingya population are denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese citizenship law, which restricts full citizenship to British Indian migrants who settled after 1823.
Migration from the Indian subcontinent to Myanmar (formerly Burma) had taken place for centuries, including as part of the spread of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in the region. The historical region of Bengal (now divided between Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal) has historical and cultural links with Rakhine State (formerly Arakan). Bengali-speaking settlers are recorded in Arakan since at least the 17th century, when the Kingdom of Mrauk U reigned. The term Rohingya, in the form of Rooinga, was recorded by the East India Company as early as 1799, but Burmese nationalists dispute its origins.
Nearly 125,000 refugees belonging to the Rohingya minority ethnic group have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh in just the past week and a half. According to reports, the central government had claimed that illegal immigrants like Rohingyas pose grave security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups. The Union home ministry also noted that the rise of terrorism in last few decades has become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants are more vulnerable to getting recruited by terrorist organisations.
In this perspective, I believe the Myanmar government and army are doing the right thing. At least they have learnt from the experiences of other countries with similar situations. India did a mistake years ago when it should have taken a decision. We are still facing that “minority” problem. My only regret is that the process can be more peaceful. But then practically, sometimes violence is the only language that resisting people understand. Short-term bad name is better than a long-term chaos regime.
Yes. India is the country with majority as Hindus and is the homeland for all Hindus in this world. Therefore, asylum can be granted to any Hindu with a sole condition that he should abide by the Constitution of India. But we cannot say of the same about people of other religions. A section of Muslim citizens in India want Shariat! So, people of other religious denominations should not be allowed into India as refugees. Secondly, if these hapless people are taken as refugees, will those who are opposing the return of Rohingya Muslim refugees stand guarantee that they will not indulge in jihadi activities?
By Uday India Bureau