India for multi-dimensional approach to Rohingya issue
Likely To Push For A Political Solution
New Delhi: PM Narendra Modi’s apparent endorsement of Myanmar’s military crackdown on Rohingya extremist groups set off alarm bells in Bangladesh and India — though for different reasons — and is likely to result in a multi-dimensional approach that will include India pressing for a political solution.
Within hours of Modi’s return, his decision to skip addressing the refugee issue had the wires between India and Bangladesh buzzing and senior officials conferred to tweak the Indian approach. After Bangladesh high commissioner Muazzem Ali met foreign secretary S Jaishankar, India made a significant course correction, calling on Myanmar to stop the violence and control the refugee outflow.
From Wednesday, India has run daily flights with relief material for the Bangladesh government to deal with Rohingya refugees. The development comes even as the Supreme Court is hearing a petition challenging the proposed deportation of illegal Rohingya migrants and it remains a political issue for the BJP government, as articulated by minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju.
But sifting through disparate statements and conversations with senior government sources, show that a four-pronged policy is being worked on. This will find articulation in the statements by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, who will lead the Indian delegation to the UN General Assembly for the second time running.
India will continue to support Myanmar’s right to go after ARSA or AMM and any other Rohingya terror group. In a statement of September 9, the MEA stated, “We had earlier condemned the terrorist attacks on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine.The two countries have since af- firmed their shared determination to combat terrorism and not allow its justification under any pretext.”
In addition, India will assist in the development of the Rakhine province as a means of tackling the problem of deprivation at its source. India will also push Myanmar to find a political solution to the crisis. As Swaraj told Sheikh Hasina in a phone conversation on Friday, India will oppose Myanmar’s acts of pushing Rohingyas into Bangladesh or other countries.
The situation can substantially increase the possibility of Pakistan-based terror groups like LeT, Al Qaeda and even ISIS exploiting displaced Rohingyas for terror activities. There is enough evidence that a number of Rohingyas have been radicalised by such agencies.
In Bangladesh, which is already battling its own terrorist problem, addition of a radicalised population could be used by opposition Jamaat and BNP for political ends.
Sources said the Indian government will defend its right to evict illegal migrants. The issue is politically sensitive for BJP which campaigned against such migration in the north-east states. The presence of Rohingyas in Jammu has sparked more such fears. Others have pointed to terror leaders like Zakir Musa supporting the Rohingyas as reason to deport them.
While security concerns are still paramount, Myanmar faces the difficult task of a political solution to the Rohingya issue. This will be hard for state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as it will impact her support among Buddhists, whose resurgent nationalism is one of the reasons for the Rohingyas’ plight. On the other hand, Sheikh Hasina is battling with the prospect that stateless Rohingyas can become a political tool against her. Using Kashmir as a comparison point, Suu Kyi said, “Because (there is) a large Muslim community in India and in places like Kashmir, you had this trouble of sorting out terrorists from innocent citizens”.