Rohingya Influx

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Sep 2017 10:58:49

Terrorism is a big issue and India has suffered the worst consequences of terrorism as much as she has faced the issue of refugee influx in the past. She cannot take chances.

Presence of Rohingya refugees gives Lashkar-e-Toiba
a chance to recruit men for terror operations in India as well. The Centre has thus directed the State Governments to set up a task force at the district level to identify and deport illegally-staying foreign nationals

The issue of the Rohingyas has grown into a major humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Several lives have been lost, people are migrating and there is utter pandemonium with blames and counter blames flying from all sides. The UN is clamouring for peace and censuring countries for failing to tackle the crisis, even going to the extent of calling Myanmar’s action or rather an inaction, as a bid towards ‘ethnic cleansing’.

There have been demands from several quarters for Myanmar’s head Suu Kyi to rescind her Nobel peace prize for failing to stem the violence. The US has urged the Nobel laureate to play a more active role and end the ongoing violence at any cost. Ousted from their homes, these Rohingya Muslims are fleeing to wherever they can, though there are no takers.

Refugees, in any case, have no takers. No country is so resourceful or demographically so depleted to need any new people in their geographical domain. Reports say, close to 60,000 Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh crossing the border from Myanmar.
A poor country itself, Bangladesh is hard put to handle this sudden influx and in desperation looking at India to play the big brother’s role and share the burden. India’s position is no better.

She cannot afford to settle lakhs of Rohingyas here. They are ultimately Myanmar’s responsibility. The Rohingyas are settlers in the region for over eight centuries. The Centre’s report says that there are already over 40,000 Rohingyas legally or illegally staying in India.

And more disturbingly, it says, many are being targeted by terror groups to find new recruits from among them. In a communication to all States, the Union Home Ministry had said that the rise of terrorism in the last few decades has become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants are prone to getting recruited by terrorist organisations. This comes on the backdrop of the Supreme Court hearing a petition challenging the decision to deport illegal Rohingya Muslims immigrants back to Myanmar. The plea filed by two Rohingya immigrants says that they are facing persecution in Myanmar and that the decision to send them back is in violation of various international conventions.

But that notwithstanding, terrorism is a big issue and India has suffered the worst consequences of terrorism as much as she has faced the issue of refugee influx in the past. She cannot take chances.

Rohingyas have settled in various parts of India and are easy targets for terror modules to find new faces from this group. Already battered and rootless, they don’t lose anything in joining their ranks. Also, being of the same religious affiliation, terms like jihad are likely to find easier acceptance in the group. According to reports, Indian, Burmese and Bangladeshi intelligence agencies have found Pakistan’s terror groups hiring Rohingyas from Bangladesh’s refugee camps.

Presence of Rohingya refugees gives Lashkar-e-Toba a chance to recruit men for terror operations in India as well. The Centre has thus directed the State Governments to set up a task force at the district level to identify and deport illegally-staying foreign nationals.

The crisis started when on August 25, nearly 20 attacks were reportedly carried out on police camps and an army base in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Around 150 men armed with machetes, bombs and other deadly weapons carried out the attacks that left 71 dead. Now security officials in Myanmar claim that they are reacting to attacks by Muslim Rohingya militants.

It is being said that Rohingya militant factions are threatening the life and security of majority Buddhists and minority Hindus in the Rakhine region. Hence, their retaliation is also obvious. It is in the aftermath of the attacks that the Myanmar Government reportedly started the crackdown that sent thousands of Rohingyas fleeing the country.

However, amnesty votaries say that all Rohingyas should not bear the brunt of the misdeeds of a few. Not all Rohingyas are militants, they say, most being normal family men and women. There might be truth in this claim too, but any major offensive against a group cannot differentiate between good and bad factions. The same has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan too. When a purging and sanitisation exercise is taken up militarily on a large scale, common men also suffer. That is the ill of it. But it is hard to be selective when in operation mode. Who would identify who is a militant and who is not? The misdeeds of a few bear upon the fate of many.

One cannot help it. So Myanmar’s also on a sticky wicket. It has to save its people, and obliterate the source of the crisis they face. It is unfortunate that common people suffer; no one wants such bloodshed and humanitarian catastrophe but there are political, economic and sociological compulsions that obfuscate the situation. Myanmar Govt refuses to recognise Rohingyas as one of the 135 official ethnic group of the country. They are denied citizenship, which makes them Stateless entities. Rohingya people are regarded as mere refugees from Bangladesh. They lack legal protection from the Govt of Myanmar and face hostility in the country.

During the British rule, a significant number of Muslims from across the Bay of Bengal immigrated to British Burma. So technically, they may also be called original Bangladesh natives. But who will take the onus and go back to history’s roots to decide the present? It is over a century now, things have drastically changed! Migration is an international problem. Even an opulent Europe is finding it hard to accept and settle Syrian immigrants despite their best intentions.

There is no end to it once the doors are opened. At best it has to be an international collaboration, where several countries together pitch in to resolve the crisis by some agreement and resource-sharing so that no one country has to do-it-all and get fleeced. But in the Rohingya case, the nations are not on the same page due to the political, ideological and ethnic diversity of a wide range, which Europe does not have to deal with.

Moreover, the terror angle is a new development and India can never do something that directly or indirectly foments a ground for the promotion of terror. India has paid heavily for its generosity. Since time immemorial hordes of foreigners have come to India, settled here, ruled the people and looted the country. India’s friendliness and a democratic and accommodative spirit have not reaped her rewards; they have only bled her. In the changing global order, she needs to be strict, resolute and unflinching in its stand.
India is just a cog in the giant wheel of the world and she has to play her part efficiently. By the way, a Government can wish to help humanity but it can’t afford morally or ethically to put its own people in peril for the benefit of others. The line has to be drawn somewhere.