New Delhi’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslim refugees and its refusal to open border for more to come in, is in the interest of national security. India’s experience with illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants has been very troubling. Not only their numbers have exponentially increased, causing demographic imbalance in West Bengal, Bihar and Assam but their involvement in terrorist and illegal activities has also been on the rise. The same is true of Rohingyas.
They have proliferated to 40,000 from 14,000 in five years. But that is a minor worry. Encouraged by the support that they draw from pseudo-secularists and radical Islamic groups, they have become a nightmare for intelligence agencies and the administration, a drain on our economic resources and a drag in our nation building. Worse, they have emerged as a rallying cause to divide the country on communal lines. Isn’t it better then, that we get rid of them at the soonest?
The brigade of liberals, however, is appalled at how the government can be so insensitive to not even agreeing to allow them to stay in India till conditions improve in Myanmar. They should know that conditions are never going to improve to an extent that Rohingyas will feel comfortable to go back. Politicians such as Mamata Banerjee, who benefit electorally from appeasing Muslims, root for them caring a damn whether their presence destabilises the country. Asaduddin Owaisi, Muslim clerics and comrades smell a strong Hindutva odour in this decision.
They want to know why Rohingya Muslims cannot find shelter in India when Sikh, Christian, Tamil and Tibetan refugees can. Their wrath is mostly directed against Hindu refugees from Bangladesh, forgetting that it is Hindus’ umbilical right to stay in India.
It may appear that the Modi government is making a needless fuss over sheltering 40,000 Rohingyas and accepting a few more in a country of 120 crore people. The problem, however, is not with their numbers but with their make-up. Two Rohingyas were recently gunned down in Jammu in terrorist operations. A dozen of them are missing from their camps and reported to have travelled to Pakistan to receive arms training. According to intelligence agencies, their links with Pakistan’s ISI, and ISIS, and their involvement in human trafficking, money laundering, mobilisation of funds from Saudi Arabia through hawala transactions and their attempts to radicalise youths from within and outside their community, are proven beyond doubt.
Rohingyas actually are the ideal material for recruitment by the ISI, Lashkar-e-Taiban (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and the ISIS to bleed India. They practice the same faith, live in camps in awful conditions, desperately need money to survive and suffer daily from neglect and deprivation. New Delhi appears to them as no less responsible than Yangon for their unrelenting misery. Given this sense of self-created injustice, it is easy for them to be swayed by anti-India propaganda and act at the bidding of the likes of LeT and ISI. Refugees from other ethnic groups may not be living a better life but their loyalty to India is thicker and hard to be subverted.
It is about time Rohingyas seriously introspect why they have to flee Myanmar so often. What is it that forces Yangon to deny them citizenship? Can the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) ever snatch independence for them by raiding a few border posts of Myanmar Army and killing soldiers in Rakhine state? They must understand that ARSA, like HuM and Hurriyat, is fighting an unequal battle and sucking them in mindless violence in the name of salvation from alleged discrimination, violence and bloodshed. Their survival lies only in living as a responsible minority community and not fleeing Myanmar.
They should learn from three lakh Kashmiri Pandits who were forced out of the Valley by Kashmiri terrorists but they chose not to leave India and become pariah in other countries. Similarly, Kashmiri separatists who complain incessantly of oppression are too clever to cross over to Pakistan as refugees.
The world is witnessing today a groundswell of anger against influx of refugees and illegal immigrants, particularly of Muslim origin. Rohingyas are no exception. Neither their so-called Indian conscience-keepers nor the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights nor the UNHCR can help them find a permanent solution to their problem. Aung San Suu Kyi, the state chancellor of Myanmar, will never be short of support in rallying behind her Army’s crackdown on ARSA’s terrorist activities.
If Rohingyas refuse to become responsible inhabitants in their country, they will keep seeking shelter in inhospitable lands. The Supreme Court of India may stall their deportation, trying erroneously to balance ‘national and humanitarian values’, but it won’t make Rohingyas’ lives any better. They will always remain suspect and hounded.
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing