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Should India accept Rohingya Refugees


Rohingyas are a stateless Indo Aryan people which reside in the Rakhine province of Myanmar with an estimated population of around 1 lakh as in 2016. The people are denied the citizenship of Myanmar as per 1982 citizenship act of Myanmar. The reason for this is Myanmar officially name them as 'Bengalis' to underline that thay came toRakhine as part of the British East India Company's expansion into Burma after it defeated the Burma king in 1826 during Anglo-Burma war. This is why 1823 is taken as the cutoff date for both the 1948 and 1982 citizenship acts. They were not counted in 2014 census in Myanmar.

Myanmar is going through transition from militaristic state to democratic state. Still the democracy is in the nascent stage with main powers in the hands of military. Aung San SuuKyi who got noble peace prize in 1991 has been criticized for her silence in the issue. Because of her silence, she has also been stripped off 'Freedom of Oxford' honour over Rohingya criticism. However, breaking her silence on this issue, she finally referred to the Rohingyas to return if they pass a verification test.

India's stance on Rohingya issue is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court. It has referred to the center to consider the humanitarian and security condition and do not export randomly. Earlier, the government decided to deport 40,000 rohingyas and consider them as illegal immigrants or refugees. The reasons why India considers them as threat to the security of the country is - these people can easily become the target of sunni ISIS, the people being can have a clash with Buddhist community of the North East, these people could also be used for the hawala transactions.

Regarding the reaction of foreign countries towards the Rohingya issue, the western countries are silent on the issue. Also, China has supported the stance of Myanmar in dealing with Rohingyas. India, while representing in Bali for the World Parliamentary Forum was also silent on the issue. There being a diplomatic policy followed by India as raising the voice in favour of Myanmar can push Myanmar towards China. Already , China is making huge investments in neighbouring countries of India like the SEZ in Myanmar, the lease of Hambantota port of Sri Lanka, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor in Pakistan passing through Gilgit-Baltistan region and thus affecting the sovereignty of India, China is working with Nepal too providing it with an alternative for supply of goods as it suffered during Madhesis crisis. Therefore , India is taking careful steps in its foreign policy.

There was 72nd United Nations General Assembly held in NewYork where representatives from different countries were present. Bangladesh raised its concerns regarding Rohingya crisis who were crossing the Naaf estuary and entering Bangladesh. It has urged other countries to support her country in dealing with Rohingyas. She suggested five point program to deal with Rohiingyas which are

  • violence towards rohingyas to be stopped and they should be called back unconditionally.
  • UNGA should interfere
  • Safe zones should be created for rohingyas
  • Ethnic protection to be provided
  • Implement the Kofi Annan commission recommendation that was created to look in to the huan rights violation cases against rohingyas.

Bangladesh Prime Minister has appreciated the help received from India in the form of operation insaaniyat, providing essential items to the Rohingyas.

India is a diverse country consisting of people of different castes, religion, tribes, celebrating different festivals, having diverse geography.

Vivekanand in its speech in 1893 world Parliament of Religions said-" I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered prosecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth" . Not every rohingya is terrorist so India should consider all the grounds though it is not under any pressure as it is not the signatory to the UN convention of refugees 1951 and its protocol of 1967 which provides shelter to refugees.

-Akriti Singh