A huge humanitarian crisis in and around India’s neighbourhood is defying an early solution or settlement, while global attention is getting increasingly focused on the region in the hope of finding a way out for the struggling Rohingya Moslems of Burma.
Over a quarter of a million of Rohingya Moslems have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh since late August. This happened after a terrible massacre of more than a thousand of the community members and brutal rape of women in a severe form ethnic violence. Starkly, some 80 per cent of these refugees in Bangladesh today are either women or children.
India has over 40,000 of Rohingyas, whose nationality is uncertain, and a move is on to deport them as part of an overall cleansing exercise in the eastern districts facing the spectre of illegal immigrations.
At the instance of the Centre, task forces have been created to identify and deport these helpless “illegal immigrants” in several eastern states. A question remains as to where they can be sent back to. Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens and sees them as trouble-makers.
In this context, the call from the UN to India not to deport them might give them a temporary respite but their future still hangs in balance. A lasting solution is not easy to come by.
Rohingyas as a stateless minority group in Myanmar have been facing persecution for decades, and the ethnic strife worsened in recent years. The military junta kept the situation either under a lid or under control in the past with an iron fist and through the barrel of the gun.
But the newfound freedom and licentiousness in Myanmar has only added to the woes of these hapless people. With the UN intervening in the matter and the Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities put on notice by the UN for faster response, this is time for meaningful action on the part of all sides to provide succour to these suffering multitudes.
The Rohingyas who took refuge in India claim their forefathers went into Myanmar as labourers from the Bengal Presidency during the British rule, and hence they are Indians. There might or might not be any truth in this.
Fact is also that the entire eastern sector of India remained largely without any substantial checks for many decades. This enabled large numbers of Bangladeshis to freely enter and set up home in India.
The Rohingya tale is a current event that most Indians should be able to comprehend. Creating any kind of ethnic, language based or religion related differences amongst citizens of one country can only help break down of social setup.
When social harmony breaks down, economic disparity is bound to increase. The Burmese had the military lording over them for long. Now, with a fledgling democracy, they are incapable of understanding how racial divisions can destroy a nation.
We in India are luckier to have had a greatly tolerant situation after Independence which we should cherish and protect now and even in the future.