Why Bangladesh is suspecting a section of Rohingyas of having links with terror outfits
Agartala, Oct 16: The crisis of Rohingya refugees that emanated in Myanmar has now embroiled both Bangladesh and India massively.
While more than 520,000 Rohingyas have taken shelter in Bangladesh after fresh violence has erupted in Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25, India which shares porous borders with both Myanmar and Bangladesh is on a high alert to thwart any kind of illegal infiltration.
Moreover, the Narendra Modi government in its affidavit to the Supreme Court has stated its plans to deport Rohingya refugees staying in various parts of India as intelligence reports suggest possible links between the Rohingyas and terror outfits and in such a scenario the Rohingyas pose a threat to the "national security".
While rights groups and aid agencies, including the United Nations (UN), said that India can't deport Rohingya refugees as it is against international laws, the Centre stated that the Rohingyas are not "refugees" but "illegal infiltrators".
Amid all these allegations and counter allegations, now Bangladesh, which has been lauded by international bodies for giving shelter to the violence-hit Rohingyas in spite of its land and financial constraints, too has echoed views similar to that of the government of India, suspecting terror links of a section of Rohingya refugees.
The possibility of terrorist links of a section of Rohingya refugees, sheltered in Chittagong, could not be ruled out, a top official of Bangladesh said on Sunday in Agartala, Tripura. He, however, asserted that his country would not allow any group to use its soil for terrorist activities.
Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, the media advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said that Bangladesh had already announced its policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism.
Chowdhury, who inaugurated a cultural event in the capital city of Tripura, said that Bangladesh expected India to take a stand on the "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
"We have given shelter to 10 lakh Rohingyas from Myanmar on humanitarian grounds despite much constraint. They were forced to leave their country following an ethnic conflict. So, a sense of retaliation might prevail among a section of the refugees. We cannot rule out the possibility of their involvement with any terrorist outfit.
"But, we will not allow any terrorist group to use our soil. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced zero tolerance towards any kind of terrorist activity," he said.
Asked if Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had penetrated the Rohingya refugees, Chowdhury said that the country has its "own agenda".
"They (Pakistan) cannot forget their defeat in 1971 (Bangladesh Liberation War). So they might try to penetrate among the Rohingyas, but we are not aware of it. Even if ISI penetrates, it would unable to survive because the Bangladeshi government is against this kind of activity," he said.
Chowdhury said though the UN has condemned the torture of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and called it "ethnic cleansing", India, China and Russia have maintained silence on the issue.
"We do not want that the relations between India and Myanmar become bitter on the (Rohingya) issue, but we expect India to take a stand for the solution of the problem," he said.
"Bangladesh's economy is feeling the impact of the Rohingyas' stay and it wants the refugees to return to their homeland in Rakhine state in Myanmar and be properly repatriated.
"Can we force them to return if the situation is not normal? The Rohingyas were brutally tortured, their properties destroyed and their women molested and raped," he added.
On the Indo-Bangladesh relations, the official said those were very cordial. It has consolidated further with Modi at the helm of affairs in India and Hasina in Bangladesh.
Chowdhury said the minority Hindus in Bangladesh were "very safe" now. "Over 30,000 Durga pujas were organised in Bangladesh this year, which is 777 more than last year."
Fourteen lakh Bangladeshis had visited India last year for different purposes including treatment and tourism, he added.
Experts fear that if India continues to maintain silence on the Rohingya crisis for long, it might strain its relationship with Bangladesh in the future. However, at the same time, India doesn't want to alienate Myanmar, an important ally, by criticising its policies against the Rohingyas.