HAVING threatened to “identify and kill” Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi nationals settled in Jammu if they were not deported within a month, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rakesh Gupta on Saturday said that it was well-known that they were “possible human bombs and harbourers to be used by militant organisations”.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Gupta sought to clarify that by his statement threatening the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis, he meant that foreign settlers should be identified and “effective measures (taken) to kill the issue, which otherwise may result into rioting involving loss of precious lives, for which the state and the Central government shall be responsible”.
Reacting to Gupta’s statement, the Chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Yasin Malik, said it was part of a conspiracy for “systemic genocide of Muslims”. Demanding that the government register a case against Gupta, Malik said, “Had such a statement come from Kashmir Inc, the entire business community would have been labelled terrorists and put behind bars. But the government is silent as the statement has come from Jammu.”
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a premier organisation with over 100 organisations of traders and entrepreneurs as members.
In a written statement on Friday, Gupta described Rohingyas and Bangladeshis as “criminals and drug traffickers disowned by their own country”. Asking the Centre and state to deport them within a month, he added, “Otherwise the Chamber shall have no option but to launch ‘identify and kill’ movement against such criminals. The Chamber feels that it shall be no offence to deal (thus) with such criminals/drug traffickers, who have illegally crossed into the state.”
He also demanded that those who provide land to the two communities be detained under the Public Safety Act.
According to Gupta, it was a duty of the public to take this action. “It is high time the people at large shouldered and shared the responsibility of the security forces and dealt with them (the settlers) as the situation demands.”
The Superintendent of Police, Jammu, Sunil Gupta, said they would ensure that “no one takes law into their own hands”. However, he added, “Neither has anybody approached the police with a complaint nor has any official statement been issued by the Chamber.”
Clarifying that by kill he meant “killing the issue”, Gupta told The Sunday Express, “The settlers cannot be allowed to stay as refugees as per Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.”
He claimed that there was a “hidden agenda of unseen forces” in settling the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis “only in Jammu”. “The motive is to create a law and order situation and threaten secular culture, brotherhood and peace.”
“It is known to all that these Rohingyas and Bangladeshis are into thefts, drug-trafficking, are possible human bombs and harbourers to be used by militant organisations. (They are) criminals with no records and identity,” he said.
The Chamber’s former general secretary, Arun Gupta, said the settlement of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals was a matter of concern, and that while they could not take law into their own hands, “the Chamber could pressure government agencies to act”.
As per the J&K government data, as of January 2017, 13,755 foreigners were staying in the state, 5,743 of them Rohingya Muslims in Jammu and Samba districts, and 7,690 Tibetans living in Ladakh.
The presence of Rohingyas has become an issue ever since Kashmiri mainstream and separatist parties opposed the state’s move to issue identity cards to West Pakistani refugees, who are mostly Hindus, settled in the Jammu region.
KEA Chairman Khan referred to the refugees in his remarks, saying, “If Jammu Inc feels unsafe due to Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims, why is it silent over West Pakistan refugees? Or is it simply part of the conspiracy to eliminate Muslims from the map of Jammu, as happened in 1947?”
Khan warned that if the government did not take action against the Jammu Chamber, it would drag the state towards another turmoil. “This is against the business interests of the twin regions of the state,” he said.