Rohingya issue has to be seen from security angle, says Ram Madhav

BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav.   | Photo Credit: Meeta Ahlawat

BJP general secretary in charge of northeastern States, Ram Madhav, has dismissed suggestions that the Union government was speaking in different voices on the issue of Rohingya fleeing to India from Myanmar. Mr. Madhav said the “human rights concerns of 125 crore Indians” was guiding the government’s policies on the matter.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Madhav also drew a line between the Rohingya influx from Myanmar and the granting of citizenship to Chakma and Hajong communities that settled in India in 1964 and 1969.

He also separated the case of religious minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan fleeing to India citing religious persecution being considered for citizenship from the case of the Rohingya, denying that it had anything to do with the latter being largely Muslim.

“There is no difference in the kinds of statement from the government on the Rohingya issue. Right from the beginning the government has been saying that the Rohingya issue for us in India needs to be tackled from the security perspective. There is a case pending at the Supreme Court and the government has already submitted an affidavit there. We have to handle it based on our experience of the last 3-4 years. We need to keep in mind the security concerns coming out of this influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. To those who talk of humanitarian issues, I want to say that for us the humanitarian concerns of 125 crore Indians are very important, their human rights, their life and their security is of paramount importance to us,” he said.

India did, however, send humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh where a large number of Rohingya have fled from Myanmar.

“As far as this issue of sending humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh is concerned, remember the request came from the Bangladesh government. When a neighbouring government, for whatever reasons, seeks our humanitarian support, as a good neighbourly gesture we should do that. One should appreciate this gesture of our government, as sought by the government of Bangladesh,” he said.

Being raised alongside the issue of the Rohingya coming into India, is the recent order of the Guwahati High Court granting citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees who had crossed over to India in the 1960s, which seems to have created unease in States like Arunachal Pradesh that see a demographic change being forced on it.

“In India, a number of States like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and States in the northeast enjoy a special status, in the sense they have certain special rights under Article 370 and 371. Under that a citizen would not automatically become a domicile in those States. In Arunachal Pradesh the issue is over this domicile status. The Chief Minister (Pema Khandu) has written to the Home Ministry stating that those who have been settled in Arunachal Pradesh should be extended Inner Line Permit (ILP). Any Indian citizen can secure that, to go into Arunachal and spend time there. Such status can be extended is the recommendation of the CM. The Union Home Ministry is examining that,” he said.

He denied that the treatment being meted out to Rohingya fleeing Myanmar had any religious or political angle, despite the special status accorded to minorities fleeing Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“As far as the Rohingya question is concerned it is not a religious or political issue, it is a question of people illegally entering India. There is a security angle involved in it. Even countries like Bangladesh, to which the Rohingya originally belonged before migrating to Myanmar, are saying that these migrants are a security threat. Whereas the Chakmas entered India in 1964, as an after-effect of our Partition. Many minority groups from erstwhile Pakistan had crossed over into India after religious persecution. They came over in 1964 and 1969. The Home Ministry has taken a view that if religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, out of persecution, come to India, they will not be treated as foreigners (intermediately), for the simple reason that at least Pakistan and Bangladesh were part of erstwhile India, and refugees from there subsequently may be considered for citizenship. This is the 2015 executive order issued by the Home Ministry. Thus their case is not the same as the Rohingya,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 11:01:11 PM |

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