By: Rama Murthy Prabhala
Rohingyas are an ethnic group (predominantly Muslims) who live in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. They have been living there for over hundred years or more.
Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens since it considers them as people who migrated during the Colonial rule. Hence Rohingyas are not granted full citizenship.
There have been clashes between the Rohingyas and Buddhists in the Rakhine state for many years. A recent clash in August this year triggered mass exodus. The Arakhan Rohingya Solidarity Army attacked police posts and an army base in the Rakhine state. In response the Myanmar army launched “clearance operations” to root out ARSA. This has triggered the latest exodus of Rohingyas into Bangladesh and India.
Estimates of the numbers vary. Between 500,000 to 600,000 have fled Myanmar over the years. India is said to have about 40,000 Rohingyas, most of them in the Jammu region followed by Delhi, Mewar and Hyderabad.
Government of India’s stand is clear – that they will deport the Rohingyas since they entered illegally into the country. The Government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court refers to intelligence inputs that describe these illegal immigrants as “a serious threat to national security”. There are reports that ARSA is closely linked with LeT and other Pakistan based terror groups which adds to the seriousness of the situation.
Myanmar media reports that ISI is active in pushing insurgency in the Rakhine state. It is part of its broader strategy to destabilize India and its neighbors.
We should also not overlook the fact the ISIS is also involved in a local insurgency in the Marawi region of Philippines and is trying to create a southeast-Asian base. The Philippines government is fighting a ferocious battle to expel the terrorists from the city of Marawi.
Adding all the above, there seems to be a concerted effort to turn South Asia into the next battle field for the Jihadist forces.
Meanwhile the Kashmiri separatists and some politicians are calling for support to the Rohingyas who are settled in the Jammu region. This raises doubts whether there is a sinister motive behind this call. Is it another attempt to change the demographics of the state? Not one of the Kashmiri politicians called for resettling the Pandits. Why this love for Rohingyas?
There are reports about some Rohingyas getting an Aadhar and PAN cards issued illegally in Hyderabad. Hyderabad is a vulnerable city with many sympathizers for illegal residents especially in the old city area. All this portends a danger to the country and a threat to national security.
India has already launched operation Insaniyat and is helping the Bangladesh government in handling the refugee crisis.
India’s approach to resolving the Rohingya issue should be based on pragmatism, diplomacy, humanitarian considerations and most importantly national security. We should not come under the pressure of UN, Western nations and Civil rights groups, and allow them to dictate our policy on the Rohingya issue.