India’s stand on the Rohingya refugee influx has been clear from the very outset. The people from the Myanmar’s Rakhine region have been viewed as hostile elements and their infiltration into Indian territory has been a matter of consternation for India’s security establishment. The Rohingya came from Bangladesh through land and water routes. By various estimates, there are still a few thousand Rohingya staying illegally in this country, mainly in Jammu city and Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Jaipur, and Bengal. It is heartening to know that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been holding talks with his Bangladeshi and Myanmarese counterparts to deport these refugees back to Bangladesh.
While humanitarian agencies have taken a benign stand on the Rohingya crisis, any threat to the country’s security won’t be tolerated. The Myanmar government, which has often been accused of being silent about the Rohingya crisis, had expressed apprehensions of some refugees falling prey to radical Islamist philosophy. It was especially evident in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. The real challenge for the Indian government is to identify them and pack them off to Bangladesh.
However, there is fear that many of these refugees have managed to secure necessary documents to stay on in India as citizens. This makes matters murkier. It must be said that over the years lakhs of people from Bangladesh had illegally entered India and then secured voter ID and ration cards to become Indians. There are several agencies running such clandestine operations with political patronage. While there is no doubt that the persecution of the Rohingya had made the world sit up and take note of the scale of the disaster, India needs to be mindful of its security interests.