Rohingya crisis: After Dhaka envoy meets S Jaishankar, India calls for ‘restraint’

Dhaka, in an unusual move on Saturday, asked New Delhi to put pressure on the Myanmar government to take steps for peace and stability, and to stop the flow of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: September 10, 2017 7:05 am
Rohingya, Rohingya Muslims, myanmar, myanmar Rohingya Muslims, Rohingya Muslims crisis, Rakhine unrest, Myanmar unrest, Rohingya deportation, Narendra Modi, India Rohingyas, Rohingya immigration, MEA Rohingya crisis, India news, Indian Express news A Rohingya man carrying his belongings approaches the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Bandarban, an area under Cox’s Bazar authority, Bangladesh, August 29, 2017. (REUTERS/File Photo)

Three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over “extremist violence” in Rakhine but did not mention the persecution of the minority Rohingya Muslim community, Dhaka, in an unusual move on Saturday, asked New Delhi to put pressure on the Myanmar government to take steps for peace and stability, and to stop the flow of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh.

This prompted New Delhi to say in the evening that India urged that the situation in Rakhine state be handled with “restraint and maturity”, with focus on the “welfare of the civilian population alongside those of the security forces”.

“It is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the state is restored expeditiously,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Earlier, Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali met Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar at South Block on Saturday afternoon to explain his country’s position on the issue. Ali, sources said, went to visit Jaishankar on the instructions of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“We explained our difficulties to the Indian government about the present crisis. The Rohingyas are coming in thousands to Bangladesh… they are a huge burden to us economically. We hardly have enough land to provide shelter to the refugees,” a top Bangladesh government source told The Sunday Express.

Ali explained to Jaishankar that Bangladesh was “under tremendous strain”, sources said. The 40-minute meeting was part of Bangladesh’s outreach to the international community to “put pressure on Myanmar to do something to restore peace and stability” and “stop the flow of refugees”, they said.

This was the first meeting the Bangladeshi envoy had with a top Indian official in New Delhi since the Rohingya refugee crisis erupted. The Indian envoy in Dhaka, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, too has been apprised of Bangladesh’s concerns, the sources said. Hasina has raised the issue with other countries, including with the visiting Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Bangladeshi officials in Dhaka told The Sunday Express over the phone that Dhaka is now making diplomatic efforts to request the UN, Germany and the International Committee of the Red Cross, besides India, to set up a “safe zone” in Myanmar to ensure safety, security, food and shelter for the thousands of Rohingya fleeing violence and possible death.

“A safe zone will also help to stop further influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, which is already overburdened with an exodus of 1,64,000 Rohingyas in the last two weeks,” said an official in Dhaka.

On Saturday evening, the MEA official spokesperson said, “We remain deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar and the outflow of refugees from that region. We had earlier strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine State. The two countries have since affirmed their shared determination to combat terrorism and not allow its justification under any pretext.”

This statement was markedly different from what the Prime Minister had said in Myanmar — where, with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi by his side, he had praised her “brave leadership” of Myanmar’s peace process, and described the current crisis in Rakhine as “extremist violence”.

“We hope that all stakeholders together can find a way out in which unity and territorial integrity of Myanmar is respected,” he had said on Wednesday, in a joint statement with Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw.

New Delhi’s position was viewed as strategy to protect its ties with Myanmar when Suu Kyi is under increasing pressure over the Rohingya crisis, which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned could lead to ethnic cleansing and regional destabilisation. Though India has extended assistance for Rakhine, it has taken a strong stand on the influx of about 40,000 Rohingya over the years, vowing last month to deport them all.

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    asit guin
    Sep 11, 2017 at 12:31 am
    Myanmar's Rohingya attackers may have links to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. A group of Rohingya Muslims that attacked Myanmar border guards in Oct-2016 is headed by people with links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, International Crisis Group (ICG) said, citing members of the group. The coordinated attacks on 9 Oct 2016, killed nine policemen, and sparked a crackdown by security forces in Muslim-majority north of Rakhine state in the country's northwest. At least 86 people have been killed, according to State media, and UN has estimated 27,000 members of largely stateless Rohingya minority have fled across the border to Bangladesh. The predominantly Buddhist govt in Myanmar, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, blamed Rohingyas supported by foreign militants for the attacks, but has issued scant further information about the assailants it called "terrorists".
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    1. Abhash Sharma
      Sep 10, 2017 at 3:35 pm
      The data provided in the study indicates that if necessary steps are not taken immediately, Assam, the elder sister of North-East India would lose its iden y from the map of India very soon.
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      1. Abhash Sharma
        Sep 10, 2017 at 3:27 pm
        The data provided in the study indicates that if necessary steps are not taken immediately, Assam, the elder sister of North-East India would lose its iden y from the map of India very soon. India need to take a bold step like Trump, who declared of deporting millions of illegal Mexican immigrants.
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        1. Abhash Sharma
          Sep 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm
          India has absorbed maximum number of refugees in the world so nobody should give India any lessons on how to deal with refugees. 2 crore Bangladeshi immigrants are staying illegally in India. Current estimate far surpasses figure of 12 million cited in 2004. A different 2009 estimate claimed that there were 15 million Bangladeshis who had taken residence in india. The rise in the number of illegal Bangaldeshi immigrants, which almost equals the size of the entire population of Australia, shows a rise of around 67 over the 1.2 crore estimate. All thanks to internal vote bank politics of few anti national leaders. Does india not already have a massive problem with massive population? How can india afford to take in illegal migrants? It adversely affects the social, economic and political environment of Assam and other states, creating law and order problems where immigrants are present in large number.
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          1. L
            Lovely
            Sep 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm
            San Suu is truly an Iron Lady
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