India Must Be Firm With Bangladesh Over Rohingyas

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Jan 24, 2019 03:04 PM +05:30 IST
India Must Be Firm With Bangladesh Over RohingyasRohingya Muslim refugees along with Indian supporters hold placards against human rights violations in Myanmar during a protest in New Delhi. (Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images) 
  • Why India should resist pressure from human rights and other groups who favour settlement of the Rohingyas in the country.

After a tense five-day standoff between the border guards of India and Bangladesh, over 31 Rohingyas, who were stranded on ‘no-man’s land’, it was India which blinked and took in the aliens on Tuesday. New Delhi was, perhaps, apprehensive of international outcry that was imminent over this group of Rohingyas being confined to open grounds, exposed to the elements, and under the watch of gun-toting border guards of both the countries.

You can also read this article in Hindi- रोहिंग्याओं के मामले में भारत को बांग्लादेश के सामने कठोर होना होगा

According to India’s Border Security Force (BSF), these Rohingyas were trying to infiltrate into India through the border along Tripura’s Sepahijala district from Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria province when they were detected on 18 January. The BSF refused to allow them in, but provided food and water to them.

But the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) had claimed that the 31 Rohingyas, many of them women and children, had been living in Jammu and Kashmir, and the BSF had tried to push them into Bangladesh. The BGB refused to let them enter Bangladesh and, thus, the refugees were stranded at the border between the two countries.

Even if the BGB version is to be believed, it remains a fact that the Rohingyas could not have illegally infiltrated into India and travelled to Jammu and Kashmir without passing through Bangladesh. Lakhs of Rohingyas have fled the Rakhine state of Myanmar and entered Bangladesh over the years, and an estimated 40,000 of them have illegally entered India.

These Rohingyas have been entering the Chittagong province of Bangladesh that borders Rakhine state of Myanmar. They are supposed to stay in designated refugee camps in Bangladesh, but many of them easily escape from these camps and journey across Bangladesh to infiltrate into India, mostly through Tripura. As it is, more than 2 crore Bangladeshis (more than the combined population of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh) have illegally entered and settled down in India, mostly in Assam and Bengal.

New Delhi must now make it very clear to Dhaka that looking after the Rohingya refugees is Bangladesh’s responsibility since it had welcomed them and provided them refuge. It is also Dhaka’s responsibility to ensure that these Rohingyas do not cross over to India, as they have been doing in groups.

The Rohingyas, most of them radicalised into the hardline and regressive Wahhabi Islam, are troublemakers and even Bangladesh is slowly getting fed up with them (read this). India does not have any obligation towards the Rohingyas and must firmly tell Bangladesh that it cannot take the burden of providing refuge to any more of these troublemakers from Rakhine.

In future, India should not blink and agree to take in Rohingyas. New Delhi can cite the instance of Saudi Arabia, which, despite being an Islamic nation, has been deporting Rohingyas who had migrated illegally to the Gulf nation to Bangladesh. According to this report in Dhaka Tribune, Saudi Arabia is planning to deport 250 Rohingyas it has kept at a detention centre in Jeddah under very harsh conditions. The Gulf nation, which has an estimated three to five lakh Rohingyas, has not budged from its resolve to deport Rohingyas to Bangladesh despite international appeals and pleas from Bangladesh.

Saudi Arabia holds that while it has granted refuge legally to many Rohingyas, a large number of them have also entered the country using forged Bangladeshi passports and travel documents. Jeddah suspects that Bangladeshi authorities turned a blind eye to these fake documents used by the Rohingyas and could have even facilitated their illegal migration to Saudi Arabia.

Since the Rohingyas first took refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmar, and since Bangladesh has been receiving adequate foreign aid to look after these refugees, it is Bangladesh’s responsibility to ensure that the Rohingyas stay confined in the camps meant for them. Jeddah is reported to have firmly told Dhaka that if Bangladesh cannot ensure this, it has to take responsibility for accepting the Rohingyas, who have managed to obtain fake documents during their stay in Bangladesh to enter Saudi Arabia.

India should also adopt a similar stand and resist pressure from human rights and other groups who favour settlement of the Rohingyas in the country. Rohingyas have had to leave Rakhine because of a crackdown by Myanmarese security forces triggered by attacks on and killings of Myanmarese forces and Buddhists by the terrorist Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which has strong links with the Islamic State (IS). Most Rohingyas are radicalised and have strong links with the ARSA.

The Rohingyas, all settlers in Myanmar from Bangladesh have, since the early part of the twentieth century, attacking and killing Myanmarese Buddhists in large numbers. The Rohingyas launched an armed insurgency to break away Rakhine province from Myanmar and integrate it with East Pakistan. Even after the failure of the insurgency, Rohingyas have been trying to cleanse Rakhine of the indigenous Arakanese Buddhists (read this).

Also read: Ground Report: Rohingyas Are Refugees In Bangladesh; In India, They Are Just Illegal Immigrants Seeking A Better Future

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