Author : Subir Deb
“Finally, some hens are chasing the invading fox out of the hen-house. There’s still hope for India!” The Indians who consider “The guest is equivalent to God” (Atithi Devo Bhava) want Rohingyas out. India Government’s decision to deport illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants is under severe attack from extremists like Hafiz Saeed, India’s one of the most wanted terrorists; Zakir Musa, the face of Al Qaeda’s Kashmiri terrorist outfit; the Islamists who want to establish Caliphate in India and all over the world et alia. Sadly, some Indian “leaders” have also joined the chorus!
There is no denying the fact that the pathetic condition of thousands of homeless Rohingya men, women and children is a humanitarian emergency. Side by side, notwithstanding the reality that this illegal immigrant problem is an acute human tragedy, the situation is quite volatile and could breed instability in India, Bangladesh and beyond. India has already burnt its fingers over the issue of Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants and paid heavily for it. People have seen how LTTE militants used their women and children as shields while fighting their enemies. Hence, the need to avoid a repetition of the same mistake with respect to Rohingyas is paramount.
The origin of Rohingyas can be traced back to Arab seafarers. In the 8th century, a handful of Arab missionaries came to Rakhine in Burma (presently known as Arakan State of Myanmar) to spread Islam. Then on, they grew in number and dispersed throughout neighboring areas, right up to the present Bangladesh region. They are Sunni Muslim and pursue fundamental Islamic studies. In the 1940s Rohingyas started a separatist movement to merge with the proposed Pakistan but did not succeed. Since then they have been spearheading jihadi movements to create an autonomous Muslim state. From 1990s, a new international lobbying movement was started by the Rohingya diaspora where they also denied their Bengali origin contrary to the widely believed view that they were Bengali. With the rapid growth of Rohingya Muslim population, the majority indigenous Rakhine Buddhists faced the demographic threat of getting outnumbered by the Muslims in their own homeland. This resulted in a series of ethnic riots and violent conflicts between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists plus the security forces that saw Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar.
Although the Myanmar Government derecognized Rohingya Muslims’ citizenship way back in 1982, thousands of them started leaving the country only after 2012 riots. As Rohingyas can speak pidgin Bengali, they first headed towards Bangladesh. Initially, Bangladesh authorities welcomed them but later on Dhaka (in 2012) stopped all humanitarian assistance. So, the boat people, as they were being called, headed towards Thailand which did not allow them to land on its territories. Then Malaysia, a Muslim majority country, also did the same. Next, Rohingyas managed to enter Indonesia, world’s largest Muslim population country, but the Indonesian Government too turned them away. Thereafter, they looked for entry points along India-Myanmar-Bangladesh tri-junction, sneaked into India and scattered all over the country. At present, they are concentrated in communally sensitive areas of Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala. According to Indian Government’s estimates, Rohingya Muslims’ population in India increased four times to around 40,000 over the last two years. The maximum concentration of around 10,000 – 11,000 Rohingya Muslims is in and around Jammu, dangerously close to the trouble torn Kashmir.
Since 25 August, 2017, fresh Rohingya refugees arrived in Southern Bangladesh after outbreak of new violence in Myanmar. They have been herded by the Bangladesh military into a handful of overstretched camps near the border. For security reasons, Bangladesh Government also imposed mobile phone ban on them, without elaborating on what specific risk the Rohingyas posed. As per the latest reports, mass graves containing bodies of more than 40 Hindus, including women and children, have been found in violence-wracked Rakhine State. Rohingya militants are blamed for killing at least 90 Hindus and forcefully converting many of them into Islam. Thousands of Hindus fled villages where they once lived alongside Muslims, alleging that they were targeted by the militants
According to Indian law, undocumented physical presence of a foreigner in the country is a crime that empowers the government to detain and deport him/her living illegally. The Government of India’s recent move to deport the “illegal” Rohingya immigrants has been challenged in the Apex court by two Rohingya Muslims. In response, the Government submitted an affidavit to Supreme Court stating that their continuance in India would have serious national security ramifications.
In a separate development, on 17.9.2017, the Indian police reportedly arrested British national Shauman Haq in Delhi. Shauman Haq had allegedly come to India via Bangladesh specifically to recruit Rohingyas to fight for al-Qaeda.
On 20.9.2017, the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) filed a writ petition in Supreme Court to quash India Government’s August 8 notification directing identification and deportation of all Rohingyas from India. The petition pleaded that deporting Rohingya children and their mothers staying at shelter homes in Bengal would put them in grave danger.
Politics in “secular” India still revolve around Muslim sentiments after Muhammad Ali Jinnah dismembered India for an exclusive Muslim-homeland called Pakistan meaning “land of the pure” – which has now turned into “Terroristan”. Jawaharlal Nehru prodded for a separate Muslim Personal Law, Indira Gandhi constituted the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Rajiv Gandhi succumbed to the pressure of the Islamic orthodoxy led by AIMPLB and amended Muslim Personal Law to deprive Shah Bano of her right to maintenance thereby NEGATING the Supreme Court judgment in her favor – just to placate the Muslims. These are only illustrative instances to show how Muslim sentiments were played with but which did not help the community at all in improving its livelihood or lifestyle. Over the years, Muslim appeasement by various parties became extremely blatant. Seemingly, the “leaders” who exploit Muslim sentiments are ready to go to any extent to retain Muslim support-base intact for furthering their vested interests.
Support to the cause of illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants in India without any care for India’s national interests, is another classic example to exploit Muslim sentiments. The Rohingyas could not stay in Myanmar; Thailand did not accept them; two Muslim majority countries Malaysia and Singapore turned them away. But, no one questions – why so? Yet, the Government’s decision to deport Rohingyas for national security reasons is being questioned! Surprisingly, similar concern was missing when millions of aboriginal Indian Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist refugees arrived in India from Pakistan after being uprooted ruthlessly from their ancestral homelands which unfortunately happened to be located in the wrong side of India-Pakistan border at the time of the partition. On the contrary, the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act in favor of these victims of circumstances, who ARE indigenous people of India, is being opposed terming it as “communal”. Sadly, today’s vocal supporters of the Rohingyas were silent against the barbaric “ethnic cleansing” carried out in 1990 by Muslim fanatics making Kashmiri Hindus refugees in their own country.
The silver lining in the cloud, however, is that these “leaders” have completely unmasked themselves on the issue of illegal Rohingya immigrants with their incredible stance. Today, the youths of India are wiser and do not accept their leaders at face value. They are asking – is THIS the secularism that Indian constitution envisaged? They are not going to tolerate these “leaders” any more who put their vested interests first – bypassing even the security concerns of India. This is the voice of rekindled India!
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