GOI Denounces Orchestrated Campaign To Malign It on Rohingya Issue

September 14th, 2017 | by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty
GOI Denounces Orchestrated Campaign To Malign It on Rohingya Issue
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AFTER UNION Minister For Home Affairs Rajnath Singh his deputy Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday slammed attempts to brand India as a “villain” on the Rohingya refugee issue saying it was a “calibrated design” to tarnish the country’s image. He was reacting after UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein had denounced India for trying to deport Rohingya to Myanmar. There are reportedly 11 million Rohingya, mostly Muslims living in Myanmar’s North West. It is reported that rebels from the minority community are being aided by some Pakistan based fundamentalist organizations to fight the Myanmar Army.

Rijiju said criticism of India for handling the Rohingya who have entered India illegally, undermines the country’s security. “This chorus of branding India as villain on Rohingya issue is a calibrated design to tarnish India’s image,” he said in a tweet. “It (such statements) undermines India’s security,” Rijiju said.

So far the Centre, in an advisory, has asked all the states to identify Rohingya Muslims living in their respective territories for deportation, as they have come to India due to alleged persecution in Myanmar and thus they are illegal immigrants. Rijiju had earlier said the Rohingya were illegal immigrants and stand to be deported. He had also said that India has absorbed the maximum number of refugees in the world. The Minister had said no one should try to “demonise” India as a country hostile to refugees as it is not going to “throw” the Rohingya into the “ocean” or “shoot” them but will follow due process of law before their identification and deportation.

The issue came to the fore after the Union Home Ministry in July had said illegal immigrants like the Rohingyas pose grave security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups, and asked state governments to identify and deport them. The government had told Parliament on August 9 that according to available data, more than 14,000 Rohingyas are registered with the UNHCR and are presently staying in India.

Rohingyas are a stateless Indo-Aryan people from Rakhine State in Myanmar. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crises. The majority are Muslim while a minority are Hindus. According to The United Nations in 2013 they were one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese citizenship law.

Despite being able to trace Rohingya history to the 8th century, Burmese law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the national races”. Migration from the Indian subcontinent to Myanmar called Burma previously had taken place for centuries. The Hindu writes thousands of Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar, especially after the August 25 violence in Western Myanmar. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which places them among the “the most vulnerable groups of the forcibly displaced” has said a total of 87,000 Rohingyas have arrived in Bangladesh as of Monday. They speak a dialect of Bangladesh .Though they have been living in the South East Asian country for generations, Myanmar considers them persons who had migrated to their land during the Colonial rule. And hence, Myanmar has not granted Rohingyas full citizenship. According the 1982 Burmese citizenship law, a Rohingya (or any ethnic minority) is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his/her ancestors have lived in the country prior to 1823. Failing which they are classified as “resident foreigners” or as “associate citizens” (even if one of the parent is a Myanmar citizen).Since they are not citizens, they are not entitled to be part of civil service. Their movements are also restricted within the Rakhine state, The Hindu added.

Muslim militants in Myanmar staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state on August 25. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group previously known as Harakah al-Yaqin, which instigated the October attacks, claimed responsibility for the attacks. In the counter attacks launched by Army at least 59 of the insurgents and 12 security personnel were killed.The ARSA is an armed guerrilla outfit, which is active since 2016, claiming to fight for a “democratic Muslim State for the Rohingya.” The group has been targeting Myanmar armed forces. Bangladesh and India have also claimed ARSA is creating trouble in their soil too. The “clearance operations” to root out ARSA launched by the Myanmar military has once again affected the lives of Rohingya community .Reports of villages being torched, civilian deaths, and Rohingya youths being picked up for interrogation have followed the militant attack, says The Hindu published from Chennai. Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Myanmar was updated about the Myanmar authorities.

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