‘Ro­hingya cri­sis can be­come In­dia’s N-E se­cu­rity con­cern’

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Rezaul H Laskar rezaul.laskar@htlive.com

WARN­ING Bangladesh en­voy re­asserts New Delhi’s role in refugees’ re­turn to Myan­mar; says de­fran­chis­ing a seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion will not solve the prob­lem but ag­gra­vate it

The mass ex­o­dus of Ro­hingya refugees from Myan­mar has to be tack­led ur­gently as it has the po­ten­tial of be­com­ing a “huge se­cu­rity con­cern” for the en­tire re­gion, in­clud­ing In­dia’s in­sur­gency-af­fected north­east­ern states, the Bangladeshi en­voy said on Thurs­day.

Bangladesh is look­ing to In­dia, as a re­gional power, to play a larger role in per­suad­ing Myan­mar to both halt the ex­o­dus of Ro­hingyas from Rakhine state and to en­sure the repa­tri­a­tion of those who have fled to other coun­tries, high com­mis­sioner Syed Muazzem Ali told Hin­dus­tan Times.

Some 400,000 Ro­hingyas had taken refuge in Bangladesh over the past two decades and their num­ber has al­most dou­bled since the Myan­mar army launched a crack­down in Rakhine fol­low­ing mil­i­tant at­tacks on po­lice posts and an army base on Au­gust 25. Bangladesh be­lieves In­dia can play a key role in de­fus­ing the cri­sis as Myan­mar has not re­sponded to any of its pro­pos­als to tackle the is­sue.

“I am more con­cerned about my own re­gion but the pres­ence of Ro­hingya refugees else­where could be a se­cu­rity risk for ev­ery­body else. It could be used even in your north­east In­dia,” Ali, a for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary, said.

The en­voy evaded a di­rect re­sponse to a ques­tion on re­ports that groups such as the Ja­maatul-Mu­jahideen Bangladesh and Pak­istan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba had es­tab­lished links with the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army, but said the Ro­hingya refugees could “fall vic­tim to the var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions who are try­ing to desta­bilise the re­gion”.

“I’m sure you’re well aware of those desta­bil­is­ing fac­tors (that) we have been work­ing (on) over­time (to counter) dur­ing the past four decades, even in the con­text of north­east In­dia,” he said.

Re­fer­ring to the at­tacks in Rakhine on Au­gust 25, Ali said Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina had shown “zero tol­er­ance” for

I am more con­cerned about my own re­gion but the pres­ence of Ro­hingya refugees...could be a se­cu­rity risk for ev­ery­body else...even in your north­east In­dia

ter­ror­ism and had also of­fered to con­duct joint pa­trols along the bor­der with Myan­mar “so that th­ese ter­ror­ists can­not es­cape”.

He noted there were me­dia re­ports that In­dian and Bangladeshi se­cu­rity agen­cies had alerted Myan­mar about pos­si­ble at­tacks after it “in­ter­cepted cer­tain sus­pi­cious tele­phone calls and move­ments” of ter­ror­ists.

Though Myan­mar does not recog­nise the Ro­hingya as its cit­i­zens, Ali said New Delhi can play a role in per­suad­ing Naypyi­daw to take back the refugees.

“Myan­mar, Bangladesh and In­dia are all BIMSTEC (Bay of Ben­gal Ini­tia­tive for Multi-Sec­toral Tech­ni­cal and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion) mem­bers, and In­dia as a re­gional power should ex­er­cise its good of­fices to per­suade Myan­mar for the re­turn of th­ese Ro­hingya refugees.

“I’m still very op­ti­mistic that In­dia would play a very pos­i­tive role for the early re­turn of th­ese Ro­hingyas,” he said.

The so­lu­tion, he said, will have to be found within the bor­ders of Myan­mar. “If we de­cide to re­solve this is­sue, it will have to be re­solved in Rakhine prov­ince it­self. So de­fran­chis­ing a (seg­ment) of the pop­u­la­tion will not solve your prob­lem, it will only ag­gra­vate the prob­lem.”

The ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion on Rakhine state headed by for­mer UN sec­re­tary gen­eral Kofi An­nan, formed by the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment to make rec­om­men­da­tions for last­ing so­lu­tions to the prob­lems in the vi­o­lencewracked re­gion, has out­lined a de­tailed process for the repa­tri­a­tion of Ro­hingya refugees by Bangladesh and Myan­mar and this should be quickly im­ple­mented, Ali said.

Ali said the new state­ment by In­dia’s ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry “added sev­eral fac­tors, be­cause as far as I un­der­stand when the joint state­ment (with Myan­mar dur­ing Modi’s visit earlier this month) was is­sued, maybe they were not fully aware about the lat­est sit­u­a­tion on the ground”.


Hamida, a Ro­hingya refugee woman, cries as she holds the body of her 40­day­old son, who died as a boat cap­sized in the shore of Shah Porir Dwip, in Tek­naf, Bangladesh, on Thurs­day.

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