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A persecuted race

20 Sep. 2017 12:39 AM IST

Ronghiya Muslims are unwanted everywhere and have become the world’s most persecuted race. Thousands have been shot dead, women raped and babies thrown into bonfires by the Buddhist extremists and Myanmarese army. The Nagas in Myanmar had also experienced the horror under Buddhist extremists and Myanmarese armymen but the ethnic cleansing on Ronghiyas is unparalleled. The persecution of the Ronghiyas also highlights the silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, destroying another myth of ethics and human rights. Her global campaign for human rights won her the Peace Nobel but her statements in shielding the repressive Myanmar junta under which she was denied power and interned for several decades now stands embarrassingly hypocritical if her stand today is part of her broader political strategy. India, which had given refuge to several thousand Bangladeshis fleeing the genocide under Pakistani military in erstwhile East Pakistan is applying a different yardstick regarding Ronghiyas. India has thrown all the humanitarian values and Gandhian principles to the waste paper basket by refusing to provide shelter to the displaced people by denouncing all of them as terrorists. Despite widespread accusations against the Myanmar government of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Ronghiyas, India appears determined to deport around 40,000 Ronghiya refugees. In its affidavit given to the apex court, the Foreigners’ Division of the home ministry emphasised that there have been intelligence reports that some Ronghiyas are involved in militancy and are very active in places such as Delhi, Jammu, Hyderabad and Mewat. However none of the states and their police intelligence units have come up with any clear evidence of any Ronghiya refugee being a terrorist. Interestingly India has received and granted citizenship to lakhs of Buddhist Tibetians and also Chakma-Hajong refugees from Bangladesh. India is also prepared to accept lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus and grant them citizenship status in Assam, an issue that has caused uproar among the local populace. In Arunachal the state government has granted citizenship status to Chakmas and Hajongs which has led the Arunachal Pradesh students to vehemently oppose the decision. The students have gone on rampage against the government decision. Chakmas and Hajongs fit into the Bharatiya Janata Party’s plan to grant citizenship to non-Muslim minorities fleeing persecution in neighbouring countries. The provision was made in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016. From the initial 14,888 settled in Arunachal Pradesh, the population of Chakmas and Hajongs are said to have increased to 64,000. The predominantly Buddhist Chakmas and the Hindu Hajongs are among the earliest persecuted groups to have sought refuge in India. They were settled in Arunachal Pradesh between 1964 and 1969 in Bordumsa-Diyun areas under Changlang district and Kokila area of Papum Pare district. The issue of threat from Ronghiya refugees is an excuse because if it was so, then all refugees should also be thrown back. The government of India has backed the Myanmarese government over the Ronghiya issue and in doing so, lowered its global image abroad as a champion of human rights. It does not mean that all refugees be granted citizenship but that there is a need to provide shelter till such a time other arrangements are made.

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