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Is Centre deporting Rohingyas keeping in mind 2019 elections?

By Shankar Kumar
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Is Centre deporting Rohingyas keeping in mind 2019 elections?

India deported seven Rohingyas to Myanmar, the day after it celebrated 149th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation who was an apostle of non-violence, truth and humanity. Justifying the move, the Ministry of External Affairs on October 4 issued a statement in which it said that Rohingyas were repatriated after “reconfirming” their willingness and with full concurrence of the government of Myanmar and in accordance with established procedures and laws.  Question is: What about humanity? Agreed, these seven Rohingya Muslims entered India illegally. But is not the circumstance in which they sneaked in India, known to the world? Living in Rakhine state of Myanmar, Rohingyas have suffered continued discrimination, persecution, human rights violations at the hands of Myanmaries authorities. To escape from such unbearable condition in their home state, Rohingyas fled to several countries, including India.

As per an estimate, there are a total 40,000 Rohingyas in India.

Yet the government of the day at the Centre cites security as a key factor behind its approach to the Rohingya issue. Being a vulnerable group to luring from anti-India elements, security officials maintain that Rohingyas could indulge in anti-India activity at Bangladeshi or Pakistani terrorist organisations’ bidding.  This narrative started gaining after Mohammad Khalid, arrested by the National Investigation Agency from Hyderabad in connection with a probe into the 2014 Bardhman blast was found to be a resident from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

As per press release issued by NIA on November 18, 2014, Khalid, a trained explosive expert, was running terror camps in the border areas of Bangladesh and Myanmar. “Khalid also underwent training organised by Tehreek-e-Azadi Arakan, (another name of al-Yaqin) with trainers from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan,” the NIA release said while hinting about Khalid’s links with Jamiat–ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Bodh Gaya blasts which took place on July 7, 2013 also bore footprint of growing terror linkage between Pakistan based terror groups and disaffected Rohingya in Myanmar. The blasts were carried out to avenge the killings of Rohingyas in Myanmar and it was revealed by Indian Mujahideen suspect Mohammed Umair Siddiqui during an interrogation. These incidents are said to have been documented in a report prepared by security agencies on Rohingya and their sympathizers’ activities inside the country.

However, after the Supreme Court refused to stop deportation of seven Rohingya immigrants, it is feared that the Centre will be emboldened to intensify its repatriation activity against these Myanmaries citizen. It is said that the more the 2019 general election will come close, the more anti-Rohingya move will become intense across the country.

Interestingly, India has played quite a deft diplomatic card to deal with the issue. In order to show its humanitarian face to the world, it offered help to Nay Pyi Taw on its socio-economic development and livelihood plans in the Rakhine state. Construction of thousands of pre-fabricated homes for Rohingyas who fled the Rakhine state in the aftermath of counter action from security forces, has been part of that socio-economic development plan. India has also helped Myanmar in the construction of schools in the Rakhine state, keeping in mind the needs of Rohingya refugees’ children when they will return from India or Bangladesh, where more than 7 lakh these citizens of Myanmar are sheltered. Last year, under its “Operation Insaniyaat,” India sent relief assistance to Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees settled in camps in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar area. Such measures were apparently orchestrated to bring laurels for New Delhi and to keep human rights watchdog at bay. Still, its anti-Rohingya activity is not something that should be kept under the carpet.