The Rohingya Community are Muslims from Buddhist-majority Myanmar. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a total of 14,300 refugees from Myanmar were registered with the UN in India, there are thousands living all over India who remain unregistered. They came to India some years ago, claiming persecution, a fact denied by the Myanmar Government, and camped on the roads of Delhi till GOI was forced to settle them.
Now what may sound like a feel-good humanitarian story isn’t any such thing. There are several factors that go against the Indian Government’s tendency to give refuge to anyone who has a sob story to tell.
- The Rohingya are ‘stateless’ people so if we keep them here for too long we might be saddled with them forever. Myanmar does not want them back as they are Bengali Muslims who migrated from the erstwhile East Pakistan.
- Bangladesh is not willing to take them; it claims that these people are prone to crime and terrorism and would create trouble in the country.
- The Rohingya have been part of a Mujahideen Separatist Movement to merge Rakhine (where they live in Myanmar) with Bangladesh. This is the reason why the Burmese Nationality Law enacted in 1982 denied them citizenship.
- Meanwhile, unnoticed by most Indians, the previous UPA government settled a sizeable number of Rohingya in Camps in and around Jammu.
- There are many who claim that these ‘foreigners’ could have been directly or indirectly involved in the recent disturbances in Jammu. They are also said to be involved in unlawful activities like drug-trafficking and thefts.
While all this is conjecture and hearsay, India has information that outfits like the Lashkar have made attempts to radicalize sections of the Rohingya youth. Internationally too, the Rakhine community tends to be cast as violent extremists.
Jammu being a part of the politically and geographically sensitive State of J&K was hardly the best place to settle refugees. Moreover, Article 370 does not allow people who don’t belong to this State to settle there permanently.
For the people of Jammu this is a double-edged sword, not only does the presence of these foreigners with dubious backgrounds, signify a threat to security as well as law & order, it also holds a possibility of what many call a ‘demographic invasion’!
Being the only part of the State with a Hindu-majority population, the deliberate introduction of Muslim refugees there could spell disaster.
It was in the light of these facts that the people of Jammu have been up in arms against the Rohingya.
The Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Jammu has called the presence of ‘foreigners’ in the city and its outskirts a ‘sinister campaign’ and demanded their deportation.
Interestingly, the agitation and protests by the Dogras elicited sharp reactions from Kashmiri politicians. Junaid Mattu, Spokesperson of the National Conference tweeted:
This prompt ‘sympathy’ was voiced for alien refugees even while there is complete ‘amnesia’ about the Kashmiri Pandits, the rightful inhabitants of Kashmir! These are the same people who shout from the rooftops about the ‘special status’ of the State at the very mention of resettlement of the mainly Hindu refugees from erstwhile West Pakistan who came to J&K at the time of the Partition.
This issue of the Rohingya has been festering for quite some time now. What brought it to mind again was a story in today’s ‘Indian Express'(3rd May 2017) written in real tearjerker style, painting these people as aspiring footballers and youths with dreams but nowhere to call home. Before our ‘liberals’ bring out their handkerchiefs and start demanding that they be given a home in India, we must ponder and ask why India is supposed to keep them when their country of origin wants to wash its hands off them! None of the Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan have expressed any willingness to allow them in.
Reportedly Bangladesh, their country of origin, is so adamant about not accepting them back that if worst comes to worst, and the country is forced to take them, they will be kept in an island away from the mainland. Such is the reputation of these Rohingya that India passively allowed in!
Our country has a big enough population of its own and innumerable problems without the added threat of unsavory elements being allowed to make it their permanent home. GOI must deal with this problem in a practical and emotionless manner, without succumbing to pressure from activists/politicians/religious groups. The Rohingya Muslims came from Myanmar and they belong to Bangladesh, India should not be saddled with this issue. They are not our problem.