Rohingya Refugees – Security Threat to India or not?

Rohingya Refugees: 

The Rohingya population was historically concentrated in the Arakan region of Burma, which is why they are also called Arakanese Indians.

The said region is incorporated in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, which is situated on its western coast and is characterized by some fairly large islands such as Cheduba and Myingun Island. It has an area of 36,762 sq km and its capital is Sittwe.
Geographically this region is distinctly segregated as it is bordered by the Bay of Bengal to the west, the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest and the Arakan Mountains, rising to 3,063 meters (10,049 ft) at Victoria Peak, separate Rakhine State from central Burma.
Myanmar has a majority of Buddhist population. However, the Rakhine State is inhabited by a majority of Muslim population and a minority of Hindus. The Rohingya population in Myanmar was around 1.1 to 1.3 million before their mass exodus commenced owing to ethnic cleansing of the region.

Tracing the History of the Ethnic Division in Myanmar
The Arab merchants arrived at the coastline of the Bay of Bengal for trade since the third century. The Arakan region became a hub center of maritime trade and cultural exchange between Burma and the outside world.
Starting in the 8th century, Arab merchants began conducting missionary activities, and many locals converted to Islam. The British East India Company extended the Bengal Presidency to Arakan region and encouraged Bengali inhabitants from adjacent regions to migrate into the then lightly populated and fertile valleys of Arakan as farm laborers. In the early 19th century, thousands of Bengalis from the Chittagong region settled in Arakan seeking work. The British census of 1872 reported 58,255 Muslims in the region and by the year 1911, the Muslim population had increased to 178,647.
The ethnic rift between the two communities can be traced back to the Second World War, when the Japanese advance triggered an inter-communal conflict between Muslims and Buddhists.
The Muslims fled towards British-controlled Muslim-dominated northern Arakan from Japanese-controlled Buddhist-majority areas.
The Buddhists instigated cruel measures against the Muslims in the Arakan region and thousands, fled from Buddhist-majority regions to eastern Bengal and northern Arakan, besides many died of diseases and starvation.
The Muslims in response conducted retaliatory raids from British-controlled areas, causing Buddhists to flee to southern Arakan.
Later, when the Indian freedom struggle was picking up steam, in the 1940s, the Rohingya Muslims in western Burma organized a separatist movement to merge the region into East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
In fact, before the independence of Burma in January 1948, the Muslim leaders from Arakan approached Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, to initiate action for incorporating the Mayu region to Pakistan, considering their religious affinity and geographical proximity with East Pakistan.
However, Jinnah declined by stating that he was not in a position to interfere into Burmese matters. Post independence of Burma, the Rohingya community was recognized as an indigenous ethnic nationality of Burma by the democratically elected government.However, after the Burma’s military junta took control of the country in 1962, the Rohingya have been systematically deprived of their political rights.
The Burmese Citizenship Law of 1982 was instituted which says that Rohingya or any other minority community in the country is eligible for citizenship only if he/she can provide a proof of their ancestors to have lived in Burma prior to 1823. Else, they would be called as “resident foreigners” or an “associated citizen” (if one of their parents is a Myanmar citizen).
Hence, despite being able to trace their history back to the 8th century, the Rogingya of Rakhine state literally became “stateless” overnight and lost entitlement to any civic services being provided by Myanmar government.
Rohingya are denied basic rights; restrictions are placed on marriage, employment and religious choice.

Trigger for the Recent Rohingya Crisis
The military junta unabatedly continued to carry out ethnic cleansing of the region and deported a sizeable population of Rohingya to Bangladesh. Even after the political reforms of 2011 and the first General Elections of 2015, things have not changed much for the Rohingya.
The democratically elected President, Htin Kyaw has been unwilling to grant citizenship to Rohingya Muslims.
In June 2012, due to an alleged rape of a Rahkine woman in the Rohingya dominated area, major riots broke out between the Muslims and the Buddhists. Buddhist nationalists burned Rohingya homes and killed more than 280 people. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled their homes and took refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, a Muslim majority nation.
The Rohingya formed a militant outfit called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in 2016. This militant organization claimed a simultaneous launch of attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state on 25 August 2017.
However, shortly before the Rohingya rebel attack that killed 12 security forces personnel, the Myanmar military had launched “clearance operations” against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state that left over 3,000 dead, many more injured, tortured or raped, villages burned, and over 500,000 Rohingya (about half of the remaining Rohingya in Myanmar) fleeing to Bangladesh.
Moreover, abysmal poverty and lack of development in the Rakhine region has further fuelled Rohingya migration.

Are the Rohingya Refugees a Security Threat to India?
The Rakhine region is Myanmar’s least developed region, with more than 78 per cent of households living below the poverty line. After the August 25th “clearance operations”, it is estimated that a total of 87,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh and about 40,000 are already living in India.
These people who have endured such drastic measures are highly susceptible to brainwash by militant organizations to propagate hatred and terror.
The ISIS, which is losing its sheen in the Middle East, has now heightened its activities in the region for a fresh recruitment drive to enhance its staying power and is looking for good reasons to remain globally relevant.
According to sources, the ISIS head-hunters have arrived in India’s north-eastern state of Nagaland and around 2000 local Muslims have volunteered to take up arms. The Imam of Dimapur is said to have been involved in collecting a huge amount of arms and ammunition from Bangladesh.
Similarly, it is believed that several radical Islamic organizations are active inside the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
It is said that Pakistan’s JuD, elements of Al Qaida, Jamat e Islami, Chhatra Shibir, ISIS and some other militant groups have infiltrated into the relief camps for distribution of relief material and are also to provide arms training.
It is a known fact that there are several elements in the Bangladesh armed forces that are supporters of Islamic terror originations and are opposed to Indo-Bangladesh amity.
In the past also huge consignments of arms and ammunition have been dispatched into the India’s NE states from Bangladesh by the Islamic militant organizations operating from there.
Pakistan and the Islamic fundamentalists present in Bangladesh have vested interests to exploit the prevailing situation of unrest and destabilize India by fanning radicalization.
Hence, Indian security forces will have to be extra vigilant to counter this developing threat.
Rohingya refugees are spread across six locations in India, which are, Jammu, Nuh in Haryana’s Mewat district, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Chennai.
Initially, the Indian government had issued Long Term Visas to 500 Rohingya, which could help them open bank accounts and secure admission in schools. Later, looking at the perennial influx of refugees and keep the security concerns in mind the Home Ministry had taken a decision to deport the Rohingya.
However, the Supreme Court in response to a petition filed, has put a hold on the deportation of the Rohingya refugees. It may be noted that China has a major influence in Myanmar and is its main trading partner. Incidentally, when global economic sanctions had been imposed on Myanmar after democracy was ousted by the military junta, Myanmar was largely dependent on China for trade and commerce.
Now that democracy has returned to Myanmar, India, like many other western countries, is making a beeline to exploit the massive opportunities offered by the natural resources and oil rich state of Myanmar.
Hence, India is not in a position to take a strong stance on the Rohingya crisis, lest it antagonizes the government of Myanmar, which is believed to be carrying out “operation clearance” to stem the growing Islamic radicalization in the Rakhine State.

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