Slagging off the Gandhis is now inevitable. Comes with the territory. Even the little-known, low profile Varun Gandhi gets it in the neck from Hansraj Ahir, Minister of State for Home, for his saying Rohingya refugees should not be deported but treated humanely. The minister said Gandhi's view is "against national interest".
One doesn’t know how many of these 40,000 stateless people are potential terrorists or why it is being assumed that they are all a threat. If you go by the photographs of the next wave of refugees escaping torture, rape and murder, they look more like victims with no future, the closest to the Holocaust in Hitler’s Germany.
The fact is that come 3 October when the Supreme Court hands down a decision India will have to deal with a possibly impossible departure if the verdict calls for deportation. These people have no passports and no identity papers to prove they are from Myanmar. Why would Yangon take them let alone take them ‘back’. Even Bangladesh is not going to open its doors. And compassion is an Indian virtue and strength and we are dealing with civilians among them women and children. To echo Gandhi we are a humane nation, by and large, and let's not apologise for that.
We are climbing a slippery slope with the present attitude and while fears of their turning renegade may have some historical basis it is not going to be easy to truck them out. Also, those who manage to get away and vanish into the system will probably be bitter about broken families and easier fodder for the terror recruits.
Technically, these people do not exist and it was shortsighted of us to place so many of them in Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad seeing as how these areas are relative communal flashpoints. Placed in less stressed parts of the country they would not have been perceived as a 'threat' to anyone. We have created a convenient nexus for them to be approached and recruited. Now, we want them out.
Clearly, these Rohingyas are not the first choice for an invitation and are now viewed with the same prejudice as are the gypsies and nomads in Europe. The Romany suspicion endures.
The writing was on the wall when Prime Minister Narendra Modi sidestepped the issue of the Rohingya massacre during his visit to Myanmar.
But for us Indians to be so harsh is so unusual. It is intrinsic to our DNA to be hospitable and we even, state by state, handed over the nation to the British, in our desire to be accommodating.
To be truly serious though, using the 'terror' tactic so aggressively seems excessive. Yes, it is difficult to take a stand when national security is thrown in your face but really, is this group of wretchedly poor and beaten escapees going to be such a massive threat to the ground reality. Terrorists are probably within the country in droves already.
As early as 2008 the security advisor national security advisor MK Narayanan had said that over 800 terror outfits were operating in India and 33 percent of India's districts were adversely affected by terror activity. The SATP (South Asian Terror Portal) has listed 180 terrorist groups that have operated within India over the last 20 years. A few more are not going to be making much of a difference.
With our porous borders allowing almost free movement, it is no secret that just in Delhi we now have Bangla and Lankan Tamil enclaves where even the cops do not wish to venture. These are now PAN card owning residents. With voting rights. According to Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, there are roughly two crore illegal Bangladeshis in India. How many of these nationalities have terror affiliations one does not know?
Against that the Rohingya influx seems puny. And though national security is an issue and has to be factored into all equations, in this case, our howl of indignation would have been a lot less shrill if we had an immigration policy that was strategic, constant and ongoing. When our politicians amorally create vote banks out of strangers, the sudden, collective concern for the nation becomes suspect.
Tighten up the borders first. No point closing a window with the door wide open.
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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 18:40:47 IST