Decoding India’s ‘National Security’ concerns on the Rohingya

The government of India recently released an affidavit to the Supreme Court of India enlisting all the reasons to not accepting Rohingya refugees at this point. The 16-page affidavit was submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in response to a plea filed by two immigrants Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir challenging their soon-to-happen deportation on the 18th of September. It talks about how “the matter isn’t in the jurisdiction of the judiciary to comment upon” however still enlisting a variety of reasons as to how the Rohingya cannot be accepted by our country. Some of them are as follows:

“Rohingya figured in the suspected sinister designs of ISI/ISIS and other extremist groups who want to achieve their ulterior motives in India”

There has been no reported incident or evidence of a Rohingya Muslim being convicted of any terrorist activities against the interests of India ever since their presence within the country. The Rohingyas have been a part of the country since 2012 when the violence had begun erupting. According to The Hindu, Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Tuesday that during his tenure as Union Home Minister, he was not aware of any intelligence report on the involvement of undocumented Rohingya immigrants in terrorist activity in India.

Anyhow, Jammu and Kashmir’s former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted that the threat posed by these immigrants have been a post-2014 development and the evidence to support that can be only given by the NDA government currently in power.

Recently there was also a report that a British ISIS recruiter has been plotting to recruit Rohingya refugees to mobilize militants against India as well as Myanmar’s army.

A couple of other things that may prove this point made by the MHA in the affidavit is that the North East and Myanmar anyway remains infiltrated by multiple anti-India terrorist organizations.

Facilities given to the immigrants “would deprive legitimate Indian citizens of their legitimate share” of their rights. Their fundamental rights would, therefore “be violated”.

This- it is claimed – would lead to “hostility towards immigrants, resulting into inevitable social tension and law and order problems.”

Again, Rohingya have been in India for the past five years, during this time again, there has been no huge ‘social tension’ and ‘law and order problems’ due to the Rohingya! In fact, surprisingly Sushil Kumar Shinde the former Union Home Minister clearly said that “The Rohingya have never troubled us”.

          Urging the government to take action as early as possible, the BJD MP said, “don’t wait for dark clouds to burst”. 

On this fore the Central government’s argument fails again – the Centre has recently granted limited citizenship to 1 Lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees. Thus, the grants of limited citizenship to these two Buddhist and Hindu communities respectively may hint at a religious angle to the Centre’s hesitance in assisting the Rohingya.

In short, one could say there is a reason or at least ambiguity over how safe the Rohingya can be for the country. Issues such as population overburdening, militancy may prove to be quite real if pushed any further. However, these matters aren’t conclusive that the Rohingya’s aren’t worth any temporary asylum. Rohingya are getting persecuted in their own homeland of Myanmar in hundreds and thousands every day. The Centre’s proposal to deport them immediately cannot be backed however measures such as asking or encouraging the international community at large to offer asylum as well. Even though some of the Rohingya can pose a threat to national security, not all of these refugees can be rejected. Two ways India could go with, are increasing national security so as to screen refugees coming in and block illegal routes for migration so that there is surveillance over this exodus.

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