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Should India accept Rohingya Refugees


Rohingya Muslims, according to some scholars, are indigenous ethnic tribe of Northern Rakhine (Arkan) area of Myanmar. Others have mentioned them to be the migrants from Bengal to Burma during british rule in India. They have turned into refugees because of the persecution, discrimination, dehumanization from other residents of the area, from many decades. The immediate cause is the violence and burning down of villages by the Myanmar army to get rid of these people from the region.

Many refugees are moving to the neighbouring countries just with the expectations of survival and protection against the harassment. Bangladesh is the nearest and accepting most of the refugees and India is thinking to deport the refugees accepted before to the same dreadful place where they don't have guarantee of their life. So only the question arises that India should accept Rohingyas or not.

Many claim that some of these Rohingyas are being used as tools of terrorism by terrorists. They are being mobilized to indulge in hawala transactions and fund mobilization. They are easily radicalised and helping radicalization that may increase the communalism which is already prevalent in Indian society today. Just a spark is enough to begin big communal, religion based fights. This can be a threat to the national security of India. Another reason can be economic like it is creating pressure on the resources where already India has to look after its own large population, poverty, etc. A competition between refugees and the local people for basic needs can increase the social tensions. India's foremost duty is to protect the rights of her own citizens. At international level, India need to check out China's increasing interest in the region, which makes her support Myanmar government that is antagonistic on issue to helping Rohingyas. Also India isn't the signatory of Convention relating to status of Refugees, 1951 so she doesn't need to abide by its conditions.

To talk about the other side of the coin, when we look into the history of rohingyas, their persecution, harassment, denying them citizenship status and thereby all the basic rights we come to know that it's a case of Human Rights violation. Avoiding them the help makes us backing up the violations. We can't forget about the Right to Life that we learn from article 21 of our constitution that assures basic rights for survival to every human may he be a citizen or a refugee. Also India has got the history of helping refugees belonging to other countries, putting asset in front of other countries as a benevolent host. Also that would lessen the burden of other small countries like Bangladesh trying to help them bearing all their internal tensions.

It's a golden chance for India to improve her refugee policy, organise all the other refugees along with Rohingyas and wake up to the non-refoulement principle that she has followed till now. It is an opportunity for India to prove that she has no bias against the Muslims unlike found in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Above all they are humans before they are Muslims. They have been mentioned as 'floating coffins' as when South East Asia refused to welcome them they remained stranded on seas starving, craving for help and survival. This is creating a humanitarian crisis no one is concerned about. Its India's humanitarian obligation to accept and provide them the required aid.

Bhanu Pratap Mehta has mentioned in his article in Indian Express that 'India's thought of deporting Rohingyas is security wise imprudent, historically myopic and morally untenable'. It is but a bitter truth. Many of the shortcomings that we saw earlier are going to exist even if India doesn't accept these needy refugees. But it is worth a thought that a big country like India should choose national interest over the humanitarian measure that may save lives of like thousands of human.

-Aditi Subhash Dhale