The politics over the presence of Rohingyas — a persecuted Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar — in Jammu and Kashmir is heating up, as the National Conference and other regional parties have asked the BJP to oust this ethnic minority from Jammu division.
The BJP MLAs from Jammu division were the first to rake up the issue of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi migrants in the recently held budget session of the J&K assembly. But the state government said that the issue of Rohingyas was a “humanitarian one” and it was not “appropriate” for the government to expel them from the state.
On Sunday, the principle opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference, lashed out at BJP for hoodwinking public opinion over the issue of Rohingya and Bangladeshis migrants in Jammu, saying instead of acting against the illegal settlers, its leaders were playing to the galleries to hog the headlines.
“Who is stopping BJP led NDA at the Centre and PDP-BJP Government in Jammu and Kashmir to tackle Rohingyas and Bangladeshis”, National Conference spokesperson, Madan Mantoo asked, adding that his party has many times sought deportation of the illegal settlers as per Foreigners Act from Jammu and Kashmir. “It is a deliberate attempt to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.”
The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) recently put hoardings across the city threatening the Rohingya and Bangladeshis migrants to immediately leave the Jammu or face the consequences.
JKNPP chairman, Harshdev Singh, told Firstpost last week that “if the state government does not throw them out, we will do that.” The hoardings — which came up in and around Jammu city, asking Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims to leave the area — said, “let us all Jammuities unite to save History, Culture and Identity of Dogras”.
Rohingyas were first denied citizenship in 1982 by General Ne Win’s government in the erstwhile Burma. Since then, this Muslim minority group (in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar) largely lives in the troubled state of Rakhine. In 2012 riots, more than 735,000 Rohingyas were forced to flee from Burma to live in ghettos and refugee camps in neighbouring countries, including India. New Delhi had allowed more than 25,000 Rohingya Muslims to settle in different parts of the country in camps.
Rightwing groups like Shiv Sena too expressed deep concern over the increasing number of population of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis in Jammu, asking them to leave the city. Dimpy Kohli, state president of Shiv Sena, made an appeal to people of Jammu, especially Hindus, to “wake up” and “unite” to thrown the migrants out of the Jammu.
The Jammu and Kashmir government recently said that more than 1,200 Rohingya families, comprising of 6,000 people, have been living in different parts of Jammu for the last six years. They are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and also with the Union Home Ministry. But now, they are at the crossroads of a fierce political debate raging in this winter capital, whether they should be allowed, at all, to live in the state.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently stated that 5,743 Burmese (Rohingyas) are staying in the state and no instance of radicalisation has been reported among them so far. “No Rohingya has been found involved in militancy-related incidents. However, 17 FIRs have been registered against 38 Rohingyas for various offences,” Mehbooba, who holds the charge of the Home Department also, had said in a written reply to a question of BJP MLA Sat Sharma in the Legislative Assembly.
Now the opposition parties are bracing up for a showdown with Mehbooba Mufti government over settling Rohingya Muslims in Jammu division. Leading the charge is National Conference which has challenged the government to act against the Rohingya and Bangladeshis from Jammu.
Almost all political groups, expect PDP and BJP, and including Congress, have been demanding the expulsion of both Bangladeshis and Rohingyas. The past few days have also witnessed demonstrations in Jammu over the issue.
Updated Date: Feb 13, 2017 13:44 PM