Brigadier Anil Gupta’s Take: Rohingyas Have to Go Back!

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At last the much awaited process of deportation of Rohingyas, the illegal immigrants, has begun. In a recent move, Jammu and Kashmir Police after the due identification process has started moving them to “holding centres” prior to their deportation which is to be organised centrally by the Government of India. It is believed to be a part of the larger all-India exercise which will finally culminate with their deportation to the country of their origin.
As is well-known these Rohingyas, with established terrorist links, were brought all the way to Jammu between 2002 to 2014 during the regimes of PDP- Congress, and NC-Congress regimes. They were also with the connivance of local politicians belonging to these parties provided identity documents, ration cards and settled on the periphery of Jammu city surrounding the military garrison at Sunjuwan. It took some time for the majority community in Jammu to realise that it was a well-planned conspiracy not only to challenge national security but also to change the demography of the winter capital city.
The twin threat became a tinder box as far as Jammu was concerned. However, the governmental support ensured that they continued to mushroom in and around Jammu only. The fact that they were being settled nowhere else in the state but Jammu only further raised the heckles of security analysts and the local civil society. Any move to protest against their planned settlement was dubbed as a right wing communal protest and silenced. Many of them were also enrolled as voters and provided voter cards by the then local MLA to enhance his vote bank. National security and the sentiments of the majority population were no consideration for these self-seeking politicians.
The sinister design became clearer when these illegal immigrants were not allowed to settle in Kashmir despite religious affinity and were also being supported financially by many Kashmiri philanthropic organisations who were also working towards their rehabilitation in Jammu. Even these organisations never thought of taking them to Kashmir where to look after them would have been much easier logistically. Jammu due to its strategic location and Hindu-majority character was obviously the target of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the mastermind of this plan.
The ISI’s intention behind selecting Jammu was two-fold: firstly; to spread fundamentalism in the areas they settle and keep an eye on the sensitive military installations in then area, secondly; to foment serious political and religious fights to force the exodus of Hindus to alter the local demography. As and when needed they could also be inducted into terrorism.  
Many people argued that all Rohingyas are not terrorists or jihadis but then going by the track record of the community and their presence in large numbers in terrorist training camps run by ISI in Bangla Desh and Pakistan it was well- nigh impossible to draw a distinction. The growing dissent in Jammu to these illegal settlers received no attention of the successive state governments. In fact their numbers continued to swell.
 The noose was finally tightened around their neck after the formation of new BJP-led government at the Centre in 2014. After BJP formed government with PDP in 2015 in the state it realised that PDP was not sincere to check the menace. It finally withdrew from the government in 2018 after the Central government had begun to act earnestly in 2017.
The uncompromising stance of the new government with relation to national security began the process of putting an end to their inflow as well as take a firm view on their deportation including one to one talks between Prime Minister Modi and Aung San Suu Kyi, de-facto ruler of Myanmar. (She has now been replaced by a military regime).
Interestingly, it is not only the Government of India or the people of Jammu who consider Rohingyas as a security threat. Both Myanmar and Bangladesh also consider the same. Many other Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia who have resisted the entry of Rohingyas into their country also do so because of security concerns despite sharing religious affinity. In June 2017, Bangladesh Foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told the national parliament that Rohingyas may become a threat for national security in the future.
“Among the Cox’s Bazar population, 20-25 percent people are now Rakhine Muslims. Such huge Rakhine Muslims may become a threat for national security in the future,” he said. Only recently his junior minister Shariar Alam echoed the same sentiments when he said that the Rohingya crisis is both a humanitarian and security issue. He further said that the possibility of links between Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and foreign terror groups cannot be ruled out.
India also shared a similar view point. India had sent relief material to the refugee camps in Bangladesh housing Rohingya refugees as humanitarian aid. But humanitarianism and national security cannot be viewed from the same prism, particularly when India is a victim of global jihadi terror.
As soon as the police began to act, the pseudo-secular pro-Rohingya lobby also became active. The Rohingyas had solid support base in Kashmir among the separatists and the terrorists. In the past whenever protests were made in Jammu to deport them there used to be a severe backlash in Kashmir because the whole issue of national security was communalised by the vested lobby by portraying it as a religious vendetta. Hurriyat at one time had threatened of a Valley-wide agitation. Terrorists openly supported the Rohingyas though it is said that terrorists have no religion. Notorious Kashmiri terrorist Zakir Musa had threatened to kill Hindus of Jammu if Rohingyas were deported. AQIS and ISIS had also called for coming to the aid of Rohingyas. Fortunately, with the changed environment the separatist and terrorist voices have been silenced in Kashmir. But their new Avtaars in Kashmir represented by the Gupkar Alliance have begun to criticise the government’s move and dubbed it once again as religious vendetta.
The patron of Gupkar Alliance has said that India being a signatory to the UN charter must abide by it and work on humanitarian grounds. While his party spokesperson accused the then Vajpayee led NDA government of settling them in Jammu. Dr Abdullah also supported him indirectly by saying, “Nobody can settle here without the permission of the Government of India.” Having failed in its ambitious plan of overhauling Jammu’s demography, NC is now trying to spin-doctor a new narrative. But everybody in Jammu is aware of the truth and no amount of spin-doctoring will help NC, PDP or Congress to wash their hands away from involvement in facilitating the Rohingyas to settle here illegally and in the process facilitate the nefarious designs of ISI. Incidentally, India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN convention on refugees.
Where was the humanitarian conscience of Dr Farooq Abdullah and his party that had turned a blind eye to the persecution and ethnic cleansing of Hindu Kashmiri Pundit community from their ancestral land by blood thirsty, slogan shouting, gun trotting locals to convert Kashmir from a multi-ethnic, peace loving, multi-religious society to a monolith? Till date except for a lip-service they have made no sincere effort for their safe and honourable return to their home land.
The clear aim of these political parties is to draw the necessary political mileage through polarisation which is a sad reflection of their total disregard of national security for petty vote bank politics. But the Government of India is sincere and uncompromising on the issue of national security hence it is not going to blink or get buckled down by such actions of the self-seeking opposition parties.
The police needs to be complimented but it has a long haul yet. The number of illegally settled Rohingyas is not in hundreds but thousands and may have reached till ten thousand by now. Many of them or missing possibly have mixed and settled with the local population through fraudulent means. Police has an arduous task ahead to identify, locate and deport them. But one thing is crystal clear Rohingyas have to go back. This is unnegotiable. Their exit from Jammu is mandatory. The nation can ill afford to let the design of ISI succeed in strategically vital Jammu.
(The author, Brig Veteran Anil Gupta, is a Jammu based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected]).
 

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