Rohingyas a real national security threat
by G B Reddy on 22 Sep 2017 6 Comments

Rohingya refugee exodus from Myanmar and their illegal immigration into India through Bangladesh is ongoing and real. A Chinese source stated “It’s fair to say that Myanmar is a heaven for saints who rebel and a graveyard for those who govern.” At the monks’ behest, the military crackdown is real.


Be that as it may, the Rohingya refugees are certainly India’s emerging national security threat concern.  De facto, India’s demographic equilibrium already stands upset during the past 70 years due to faulty Congress Party vote bank appeasement politics: from 8.9% Muslims as per 1951 census, officially at over 14% in 2011, and unofficially around 20% as per Owaisi brothers of Hyderabad, Telangana.


Muslim firebrand leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi and his brother Akbaruddin, Badruddin Ajmal (Assam), Azam Khan (UP), Zakir Naik (Mumbai), and the Shahi Imam of Tippu Sultan Mosque (Kolkata) and Jama Masjid (Delhi), among many others, have been pouring jingoistic rhetoric against the Hindus. 


Asaduddin Owaisi, as per media reports stated, “Hindus shouldn’t make the mistake of considering Indian Muslims any different from the Pakistan Muslims. If India may dare to attack Pakistan, then 25 crore Indian Muslims will join Pakistan forces and fight against India”. And he talks of compassion to be shown to Rohingya refugees.


Maulana Badruddin Ajmal of Assam stated, “Hindus do not have any rights to vote in Arab, Pakistan or any of the 56 Islamic Nations. I challenge: has even a single Hindu the strength (guts) to impose restrictions on our voting rights in India?”


Khaleda Zia, Bangladesh National Party, stated, “I regret the continuing massacre of Hindus and Buddhists in Bangladesh, but Bangladesh is an Islamic Nation and not secular. Under the circumstances, if Hindus and Buddhists want to live safely, they should either convert to Islam or go to India.”


Look at growth of Muslim population in West Bengal and Assam. From 19.85% (1951 Census), Muslim population in West Bengal has grown to 28% (2011 Census). But the most rapid rise is in Assam, mostly due to illegal immigration (demographic invasion) from Bangladesh. From 17.62% (1951 Census), the number is now 29.59% (2011 Census). From zero Muslim-majority districts in 1951, the number stands at 9 in 2011. Assam could be a Muslim-majority State by 2050 if rapid demographic transition continues.


Similarly, three neighboring districts in West Bengal changed from minority in 1947 to majority status (2011 Census): Murshidabad (66.27%); Malda (51.27%); Uttar Dinajpur (49.92%), while South 24 Parganas and Birbhum following behind at over 35%. A Rohingya influx could further transform both West Bengal and Assam and pave the way for separation of the North East from the Indian mainland.


Regarding the Rohingya refugee crisis, the provocations as per the Myanmar military are the attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), aided by Islamist radicals, on 30 police outposts on August 25, 2017. Even in 2015, ARSA had attacked several border posts along the border with Bangladesh.


Prior to Aug. 25, 2017, Associated Press, Dhaka-Bangladesh, reported some 500,000 Rohingyas had arrived after bloody anti-Muslim rioting in 2012 or amid earlier persecution drives in Myanmar. After the crackdown after 25th August 2017, at least 370,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh. Ethnic cleansing is almost complete - over 870,000 refugees out of total 1,000,000 Rohingyas.


Most of the refugees are located along the Teknaf-Cox’s Bazar highway that is parallel to the Naf River, which is the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. In the pre-2012 exodus, there was an illegal Rohingya influx to West Bengal. Some of them have been sent to Jammu, whilst unknown numbers moved into interior locations like Hyderabad and were given ration cards and identity papers by Muslim brethren. Claims are made that they would prefer to go back home “if normalcy returns”, but there are very few examples of return of refugees to their native lands.


Two charities, the Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI) and Don Bosco, have been working to help the Rohingyas in New Delhi. Zafar Mahmood, president of ZFI, says 210 Rohingyas are living in Madanpur Khadar on land provided by his organization. Khalsa Aid is providing ‘free lungar” to refugees in Bangladesh.


Human rights activists from India and other parts of the world are denouncing India for not admitting Rohingya refugees and the recent plan to deport nearly 40,000 illegal entrants of the past. Two human rights groups have accused the UN Security Council of ignoring the crisis. Louis Charbonneau, director, Human Rights Watch, said, “This is an international peace and security crisis” and there is no excuse for the Security Council “sitting on its hands.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, criticized India: “India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations.”


The Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva, Rajiv K Chander, replied: “We are perplexed at some of the observations made by the High Commissioner in his oral update. Like many other nations, India is concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges. Enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion,” he said.


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is urging Myanmar to allow UN monitors to investigate what it alleges is systematic brutality against the Rohingya. However, the OIC group of 57 nations is unwilling to welcome Muslim refugees.


The threat of radical Islamic terrorism is real in countries with a sizeable Muslim population. Saudi Arabia has long backed the Taliban and, together with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), officially recognized the group when it assumed control of Afghanistan in 1996. Now, Riyadh blames Qatar for supporting the Taliban. Iran too supports Islamic fundamentalists. The Saudi break with the Taliban is due to the increasing support the Taliban have accepted from Iran. The Sunni-Shia conflict is also real.


Over the last decade, there has also been a shift in Saudi funding to Pakistan away from Deobandi groups like Taliban to the more extreme Ahl-i-Hadith sect, the Pakistani equivalent of Wahhabism. Local sources in Pakistan report that Saudi Arabia is providing funds for Jihadi training camps in order to launch attacks on Iran from Baluchistan.


If the OIC nations, particularly those flush with petro dollars, can extend financial aid to Islamist fundamentalists the world over, they can surely aid the refugees and admit Rohingyas into their own countries and provide relief to beleaguered countries like Bangladesh. India would help transport the refugees to such benevolent nations directly from Bangladesh.


Rights activists have criticized the Indian government over a citizenship law that includes a provision for welcoming refugees facing persecution, specifying “Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan”, but not Muslims.


In a recent blog, former union minister, Mani Shankar Aiyer (Congress) accused the Modi government of ending India’s “golden tradition” of opening its doors to refugees. “… if we can assure indefinite refuge to uncounted generations of Tibetans, unnumbered Afghans and hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils refugees, why not a few thousand Rohingya?” Yet it is the Congress Party that is responsible for the rapid demographic transition sweeping various districts of West Bengal and Assam. They failed to ensure the return of Bangladeshi refugees of 1971 and used them as a ‘vote bank’.


Now, 24-year-old Rohingya, Mohammad Shakil, has challenged the government’s plan to deport them in the Supreme Court, “We would prefer to die here [in India] than return.” Prashant Bhushan is appearing in the case on grounds that deportation would violate Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India. It claims that India is a signatory to various conventions that recognize the principle of “non-refoulement” which prohibits forcing refugees to return to places where their lives might be at risk. However, India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Myanmar recently (his second visit in three years) and held talks with Aung San Suu Kyi. There was no reference to the Rohingya issue in the joint statement. India has significant geopolitical and security interests that continue to shape its outreach to Myanmar as part of its “Act East” policy. In 2016, India built a port in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State. It is currently constructing a highway that will connect Moreh in India with Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. And it has plans to boost military and economic cooperation with the country, to which it sells a wide range of defense equipment. In July 2017, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces visited India.


India’s national security interests outweigh all other considerations, especially given the spread of ISIS affiliates in Bangladesh and India. It cannot allow the intellectually bankrupt human rights activists to plunge it into a communal cauldron.

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