Signs of The Times!

The Day After - - CONTENT - By huMra Qu­raiShi

Last week I watched a news chan­nel pro­gram rather too at­ten­tively; af­ter all, the chan­nel an­chor and his team of re­porters were de­tail­ing that there are no signs of se­cu­rity threat from the Ro­hingya refugees tak­ing refuge in our coun­try. Each chan­nel re­porter, re­port­ing from the four lo­cales where the Ro­hingyas have been liv­ing in refuge for the last few years - Jammu, Farid­abad, Ra­jasthan and New Delhi – was seen talk­ing to po­lice of­fi­cials who seemed to give a clean chit to these refugees. Nah, none of the ISIS, Al – Qaeda, In­dian Mu­ja­hedeen or Ji­hadists tags to any of the refugees!

To quote these de­tails from NDTV’s web­site – ‘An NDTV multi-city in­ves­ti­ga­tion into key Ro­hingya set­tle­ments in In­dia found lit­tle ev­i­dence of ter­ror­ist links, or of greater crim­i­nal­ity. We fo­cused on the four main cen­ters where Ro­hingyas are based in In­dia - Jammu, Delhi, Ra­jasthan and Haryana. Jammu has the high­est num­ber of Ro­hingyas - 5,743 in all. On Jan­uary 20th this year, Jammu and Kash­mir Chief Min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti told the Assem­bly that “no Ro­hingya in Jammu and Kash­mir has been found in­volved in mil­i­tancy re­lated in­ci­dents. No in­stance of rad­i­cal­iz­ing (of) these for­eign­ers has been re­ported so far”. She said, “17 FIRs have been reg­is­tered against Ro­hingyas for var­i­ous of­fences, in­clud­ing those re­lat­ing to il­le­gal bor­der cross­ing.”

That in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that of these 17 FIRs, the two cases are against Bangladeshis and one against a Pak­istani. So ef­fec­tively, there are only 14 FIRs against 5,743 Ro­hingya Mus­lims, a crime rate of 0.24%...’.We tracked down ev­ery sin­gle one of the 14 FIRs or first in­for­ma­tion re­ports to find the fol­low­ing: eight cases for lack of visa, two cases of rape, one case of cow slaugh­ter, one case for caus­ing in­jury, one case for sell­ing goods in the black mar­ket and one for steal­ing rail­way prop­erty. These find­ings were matched by what the se­nior po­lice of­fi­cials in Jammu told NDTV.- “I haven’t seen any­thing alarm­ing in terms of their (Ro­hingya Mus­lims) crim­i­nal records. They are in­volved in petty theft like other groups of that so­cial eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. But we haven’t found any­thing alarm­ing or their in­volve­ment in or­ga­nized groups or very sen­sa­tional na­ture cases so far,” said Dr SD Singh, In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice, Jammu.’

‘In Delhi, home to ap­prox­i­mately 1,000

Ro­hingya Mus­lims, po­lice of­fi­cials said that they had no data on FIRs reg­is­tered against Ro­hingyas in the city, or any ev­i­dence of rad­i­cal­iza­tion. Given the con­di­tion of the Ro­hingyas, they added, it seems highly un­likely that they will be drawn to ex­trem­ism…In Jaipur, 350 Ro­hingya Mus­lims are spread over four po­lice sta­tion ar­eas. NDTV found that in these po­lice sta­tions, there was only one FIR, of a rape charge by a Ro­hingya woman against a Ro­hingya man….In Haryana, the Ro­hingyas are clus­tered in Farid­abad and Me­wat. Po­lice in Farid­abad told NDTV that no cases are reg­is­tered against Ro­hingyas. Po­lice of­fi­cials in Chandi­garh said they have no state-wide data on crimes by Ro­hingyas…’

It seems that this gov­ern­ment has got hold of the ‘se­cu­rity scare’ al­ibi when it’s been un­able to catch hold of any sane ar­gu­ment to de­port these hap­less refugees who have been liv­ing in In­dia for the last few years and till date no one ter­ror re­lated case against them. As I have men­tioned even the po­lice of­fi­cials in­ter­viewed in full pub­lic view have been seen giv­ing a clean chit to these refugees; nah, no ter­ror con­nec­tion to them.

Yet, sud­denly there’s sprung up this sur­charged frenzy to la­bel these refugees as ter­ror­ists or as po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists! Bla­tantly com­mu­nal ar­gu­ments in those gov­ern­ment- backed tele­vi­sion chan­nels are tak­ing off , where a bunch of ex­perts have be­gun shriek­ing the ter­ror links to these refugees. And if that isn’t enough, Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nas­reen is also mak­ing her pres­ence felt to give her ex­pert com­ments on these refugees! She is her­self a refugee here yet she is ask­ing for their de­por­ta­tion. Pa­thetic irony!

How smug can we sit in this at­mos­phere brim­ming with sor­row! How thick –skinned can we get! We are see­ing these refugees dy­ing in front of our eyes - dy­ing of star­va­tion and sub- hu­man liv­ing con­di­tions –and now those ter­ror la­bels are to be pinned on their heads or fore­heads be­fore they are de­ported to be mas­sa­cred in their home coun­try!

Aren’t we hous­ing hun­dreds of Ti­betan and Sri Lankan Tamils and Chakma refugees who also fled seek­ing refuge here? Why this al­lergy for the hap­less Ro­hingyas?

Con­trasts have be­gun to hit. Why is this gov­ern­ment in­sen­si­tive to the plight of these Ro­hingya when Ti­betan refugees have been of­fi­cially housed not just in the hills of Hi­machal Pradesh but even in the heart of Sri­na­gar city …What had taken me by com­plete sur­prise was to see a well-planned basti of Ti­betan refugees liv­ing in the heart of Sri­na­gar—close to the Makhdoom Sahib dar­gah. ..When I’d asked the lo­cals what they thought of these refugees liv­ing in their midst, they’d told me: ‘They live here but for them the Dalai Lama is their only leader. Even cul­tur­ally they are dif­fer­ent… they are not like us Kash­miris.’ That could per­haps ex­plain why they lived hud­dled to­gether in this colony, hav­ing lit­tle in­volve­ment with the lo­cal pol­i­tics and peo­ple. Liv­ing safely in the Val­ley, their main source of eco­nomic sur­vival seemed em­broi­dery, tai­lor­ing and own­ing eater­ies…The Kash­mir Val­ley has any­way a his­tory of giv­ing refuge to Su­fis, flee­ing from Cen­tral Asia and set­tling there in the Val­ley.

More than half of New Delhi’s men and women have been refugees at some stage of their lives yet this ap­a­thy for the Ro­hingya refugees. Why? Look at their plight .Look at their sad­dened faces and their with­ered forms. Look how des­tiny has re­duced them to such help­less­ness …they are dy­ing, per­ish­ing!

You never know des­tiny’s ways; some­day you and I could get re­duced to the refugee sta­tus!

Taslima Nas­reen

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