THE ROHINGYA PROBLEM: Let Religion not Overshadow National Security

The much awaited affidavit on the Government’s stand on Rohingya issue has been filed before the Supreme Court. The government’s viewpoint echoes the sentiments of the vast majority of security analysts who consider Rohingyas a threat to national security. The government of India in an unequivocal manner and without mincing any words has clearly described Rohingyas as a part of “bigger sinister designs” and a “serious security threat”. The government in its affidavit has also stated that it has credible inputs that Rohingyas, who have entered India illegally, have links with terrorist groups and hawala channel operators. It further stated that some of them were in league with global jihadi terrorist organisation Daesh or ISIS and Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI), which has been responsible for spreading terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of the country.

It is ironic that the plain speaking by the government is being deliberately misinterpreted by certain political parties by spreading the canard of “religious discrimination”. The sincerity of the government is being questioned by those who thrived in politics by exploiting this particular community as a “vote bank” even at the cost of national security and integrity. The statement of Advocate Prashant Bhushan, whose political leanings are well known, is tantamount to arousing communal passions to disturb the prevailing peace and tranquillity. Mani Shankar Aiyyar, who during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel in November 2015 had advocated the need to remove Modi, for the talks between two neighbours to resume, has gone to the extent of terming the government’s move to deport the illegal Rohingya immigrants as “furtherance of agenda of Hindutva”. What a skewed imagination? The ex Chief Minister of the state who is famous for his tweets has also tried to give the crisis a communal touch by tweeting that the Rohingya threat in Jammu and Kashmir was a post-2014 development. It is natural to expect such a statement from him since he was also part of the “bigger sinister designs” through which the Rohingyas were allowed to come all the way from Bangladesh and facilitated to settle in sensitive Jammu region. His coalition government (NC-Congress) not only welcomed them but also provided them water and electricity connections as well as voter cards. He also conveniently forgets that one of the two LeT terrorists killed in South Kashmir in October 2015 named Abdur Rehman al Arkani alias Chotta Burmi was a Rohingya.

Interestingly, it is not only the Government of India that considers Rohingyas as a security threat. Both Myanmar and Bangladesh also hold a similar view. Many other Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia have resisted the entry of Rohingyas into their country on 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 shares a similar view point. India has sent relief material to the refugee camps in Bangladesh housing Rohingya refugees as humanitarian aid. But humanitarianism and national security cannot be viewed through the same prism, particularly when India is a victim of global jihadi terror. The pseudoseculars are refusing to accept the presence of elephant in the room and trying to make it a communal issue. Ram Madhav, BJP General Secretary has aptly stated India’s stand, “As far as Rohingya issue is concerned, our government’s position is very clear. Where it is a humanitarian question, there the government has immediately stepped in tackling that problem. But when national security concerns are involved, we will deal with those sections very sternly.”

One does not need to be a student of space science to understand the logic behind the Pakistani handlers of separatists in Kashmir giving a diktat to them to go all out to prevent the deportation of Rohingyas from Jammu as these refugees can “prove helpful” in future. It is learnt from newspaper reports that separatists are planning to trigger an agitation in the Valley, the ground work for which has already begun. Many sympathisers of the Rohingyas are using the social media to spread a distorted and concocted campaign of atrocities against them. For them, the Rohingya crisis has already become a “burning issue” in Kashmir. The reason is simple. The handlers of separatists are the same ISI operatives who are involved in a sinister conspiracy of radicalising, training and financing the Rohingyas in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar area (where maximum Rohingyas have migrated). ISI thereafter planned and facilitated their illegal entry into India through the porous Bangladesh border and despatched them to selected destinations in India which include communally sensitive regions like Jammu, Delhi, Rajasthan and Hyderabad.

The ISI’s intention behind selecting these destinations is two-fold: firstly; to spread fundamentalism in the areas they settle and thereafter use them for Pan Islamisation of the region, secondly; to foment serious political and religious fights to force the exodus of Hindus to alter the regional demography. As and when needed, they can be inducted into terrorism. A couple of days back, a Rohingya youth was caught in Jammu in a narcotics case. India is already a victim of ISI sponsored “narcotic terrorism” and involvement in drug trafficking is the stepping stone to terrorism. Another al Qaeda terrorist of British origin has been arrested in New Delhi who is actively involved in inducting Rohingyas into terrorism as part of “Plan Rohingya”. Majority of the Rohingyas have already been radicalised in the camps in Bangladesh where ISI, ISIS, al Qaeda, LeT and JeM trainers are busy training the Rohingyas as ‘jihadis’. There is no denying the fact that all Rohingyas cannot be painted with same brush. But it is equally well known that one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. AQIS and ISIS have also called for coming to the aid of Rohingyas.

For those who are using the ridiculous argument that not even a single FIR has been filed against the Rohingyas in terror related activities, it should suffice to say that “forewarned is always well armed.” The nation need not wait for the worst to happen but learn a lesson from what is happening around the world particularly in Western Europe, England and America. The influx of refugees into these nations has now emerged as a big security challenge. India, which is already a victim of global jihadi terror, can ill afford any more experiments on this issue and if she does it will be at the peril of national security. The active involvement of Hafiz Saeed, strategic asset of ISI, is reason enough for India to treat Rohingyas as security threat. The secular brigade in India will be well advised to divorce religion from Rohingya crisis and shed their tunnel vision to grasp the wider and relatively more important issue of national security.

In a major development, Aung San Suu Kyi, de-facto ruler of Myanmar, has announced the willingness of her government to take back Rohingyas after due verification. This change of heart has happened after the recent talks held by Prime Minister Modi with the Myanmar supremo and can also be termed as another diplomatic achievement for India. Suu Kyi has also stated that majority of the Muslims have not joined the exodus and more than 50 percent villages of those who migrated are still intact. The fact is that those Muslims who are peace loving and believe in friendly co-existence and are not in conflict with the locals continued to stay and only those who were radicalised migrated to Bangladesh. While in Cox Bazar ISI has assumed their control and is using them as cannon fodder for jihadi terror outfits.

As clarified by the Home Minister, the Supreme Court will take a call on the government’s plan to deport Rohingya Muslims, who entered the country illegally. One has highest regards for the judiciary and hopes that the judiciary will follow the well-established principle of “Application of Mind” while interpreting the relevant statutes and come out with a judgement that is best in national interest. At the same time, one would not hesitate to add that while judiciary may give its considered opinion, the subject matter falls in the domain of executive and the final call on deportation of Rohingyas will have to be taken by the Government of India which is mandated to ensure nation’s security.

Brig Anil Gupta is a Jammu based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst.He can be contacted at

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