The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story - CON­TIN­UED FROM P1

de­por­ta­tion of the Rohingyas, against two Rohingyas chal­leng­ing the Cen­tre’s plan to de­port them. The mat­ter will come up for hear­ing on 18 Septem­ber. Though there is no of­fi­cial record, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates, more than 40,000 Ro­hingya refugees have sneaked into In­dia from Myana­mar. Govin­dacharya spoke to The Sun­day Guardian on the is­sue. Ex­cerpts: Q: What prompted you to move the Supreme Court seek­ing the de­port­ing of the Rohingyas? A: In­dia has al­ready seen a Par­ti­tion on the ba­sis of re­li­gion. We should keep in mind that de­mog­ra­phy plays an im­por­tant role in so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions. It is true that In­dia has been the most wel­com­ing na­tion. We wel­comed dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties even 2,000 years ago. But now the sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent; the chal­lenges are dif­fer­ent. We are liv­ing in the 21st cen­tury. Ev­ery­one is tired of ter­ror­ism. There are rea­sons to worry, as our in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have warned that Rohingyas have links with ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions. So this is a wake-up call for us. There­fore, I moved the Supreme Court. Also, pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion is tak­ing a heavy toll on In­dia’s re­sources. If more peo­ple are per­mit­ted within the coun­try, it will cre­ate chaos and an­ar­chy. If 40,000 il­le­gal im­mi­grants are given pro­tec­tion, more peo­ple could come in.

When I say about chang­ing de­mog­ra­phy, you can see what is hap­pen­ing in West Ben­gal, where as many as nine dis­tricts, where Mus­lims were a mi­nor­ity, have now be­come Mus­lim-dom­i­nated. This has hap­pened be­cause of in­fil­tra­tion from Bangladesh. So we should not ig­nore the ground re­al­ity.

We should also un­der­stand the fact that in­fil­tra­tion is tak­ing place in Bharat, Bangladesh. They can go any­where. But why do they choose Bharat? It’s be­cause of our sym­pa­thetic ap­proach. Within In­dia, they are go­ing to places like Delhi and Jammu and Kash­mir, and not to states like Mi­zo­ram and Na­ga­land. Q: But in­fil­tra­tion by Rohingyas has been go­ing on for a long time. What was the ur­gency to raise the is­sue now? A: Our agen­cies like the In­tel­li­gence Bureau and the RAW have said that Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba have made in­roads in J&K through the Rohingyas. We must re­mem­ber that these are il­le­gal im­mi­grants. Many Rohingyas have set­tled in J& K. As per Ar­ti­cle 370, there are many re­stric­tions on In­di­ans from other states to stay in J&K. If In­di­ans are not al­lowed to stay there, how can the il­le­gally im­mi­grated Rohingyas be al­lowed to stay in a state, which shares a sen­si­tive bor­der with Pak­istan? There­fore, there is a sense of ur­gency to ad­dress this is­sue. Many peo­ple are tak­ing a sim­plis­tic view of the problem, rather than a re­al­is­tic view. We can­not have a Utopian view and sit pretty like os­triches. This is not merely a refugee is­sue. There are other di­men­sions also. We need to be re­al­is­tic and ob­jec­tive, rather than sub­jec­tive and emo­tional. Q: Apart from J&K, which other areas face a threat due to their in­fil­tra­tion? A: Rohingyas pose a se­vere se­cu­rity threat to As­sam and other North­east­ern states. In fact, they have con­sid­er­able se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions for Bangladesh as well. The se­cu­rity agen­cies have warned the govern­ment that Pak­istan’s in­tel­li­gence agen­cies may try to ex­ploit Rohingyas to sup­port a “ji­had”. There­fore, they can cre­ate trou­ble in As­sam, which has seen vi­o­lent clashes due to large scale il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Q: The BJP, it seems, was not so vo­cal on the is­sue so far, as it was in the case of Bangladeshi in­fil­tra­tors. A: Ear­lier the im­pact was less, so the re­ac­tion was not that in­tense. But now the at­mo­sphere has changed. The en­tire mind­set to­wards the is­sue of ter­ror­ism has changed, glob­ally, af­ter the 2001 ter­ror at­tacks on the US. I think the BJP and the NDA govern­ment at the Cen­tre have started tak­ing the is­sue se­ri­ously now. You can see the state­ments of Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh and his Min­is­ter of State, Kiren Ri­jiju. The RSS also men­tioned the is­sue in its re­cent meet­ing in Vrin­da­van. Q: What should be In­dia’s stand on this is­sue of refugees? A: In­dia should ex­tend all co­op­er­a­tion to the UN agen- cies in re­solv­ing the is­sue. But we should keep in mind that In­dia is not a sig­na­tory to the UN Refugee Con­ven­tion, 1951 and its 1967 pro­to­col. Rohingyas say that they have been is­sued iden­tity cards by the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But that does not im­ply that they have be­come im­mune from the pro­ceed­ings un­der the For­eign­ers Act 1946. I think the pe­ti­tion­ers’ plea that the other mem­bers of the Ro­hingya com­mu­nity should not be de­ported is even more prob­lem­atic as out of 40,000 Rogingyas, only 14,000 have I-cards is­sued by the UNHCR. Q: What about the Bangladeshi in­fil­tra­tors? A: I think our govern­ment should take the is­sue se­ri­ously. It should take up the mat­ter with the Bangladesh govern­ment. Bangladesh is be­com­ing a den of ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties.

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