We cannot afford to overlook ISI’s decades-old links with Rohingyas

We cannot afford to overlook ISI’s decades-old links with Rohingyas

By Rajinder Kumar | 23 September, 2017
Rohingyas, Pakistan, Muslims, Hindus, Secularism, ISI
West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury along with with party workers takes out a protest rally over the Rohingya crisis on 12 September in Kolkata. IANS
The case of Rohingyas cannot be treated on the same pedestal as that of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

India was partitioned in 1947 on the basis of religion, with the creation of Pakistan as a separate country for Muslims. Since Congress accepted the division of the country on religious basis, it was presumed that while Pakistan would be a Muslim state, India was to be a Hindu country. Nobody at the time of Partition and Independence gave any assurance to the Muslims that India would be a secular state where Muslims would have additional rights compared to Hindus. Secularism was made a feature of the Indian Constitution only in 1950. If religion would not have been the basis of Partition, millions of Hindus and Muslims would not have been killed and many other several millions would have to leave their homes in India and Pakistan. Let us be frank that there is a difference of status between Muslim and non Muslim minorities such as Jains, Buddhists, Sikh, Christians, Parsis and Jews, as the latter could not have opted for Pakistan, being a country created for Muslims. They never demanded separation from India and thus have as much claim on India as any Hindu would have and, therefore, have a substantive right for refuge in India if they are persecuted in any part of India before 1947. All the non Muslims of the subcontinent, even if they did not migrate to India in 1947, would always have a natural right to seek refuge in the mother country India, if they feel persecuted in countries which were part of pre-Independence India. The case of Rohingyas cannot be treated on the same pedestal as that of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Even before the formation of Bangladesh, the Rohingya National Army was created by the ISI in the 1960s, to coordinate and facilitate Northeast insurgents in their movement along India-Burma-East Pakistan border areas.

Let us be very frank that India is the only mother country for Hindus and they cannot go anywhere other than India. Having secured independence from thousands of years of foreign rule, Hindus and other non Muslims of the subcontinent have the task of ensuring that India never, in future, becomes a non Hindu majority country. It is not the case that Muslims, who had stayed back in India and did not migrate to Pakistan and Bangladesh, are to be treated as second class citizens and be persecuted for being Muslims. The only limitation on their rights is not to object to India giving refuge to other non Muslim communities of the subcontinent if they feel persecuted in the countries of their residence, and they cannot demand from India the granting of refuge to Muslims from any other part of pre-Independence India.

There are reasons for the same, as the dominant Muslim clergy’s interpretation of their scriptures is that nation-states are not recognised and for them the entire community is part of the only one state that is ummah and each member of the community has the obligation to convert the entire world to ummah.

Coming back to the issue of Rohingyas, it is not only that some of them are involved with terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, but in the past too they have remained connected with the Pakistan’s ISI. Even before the formation of Bangladesh, the Rohingya National Army was created by the ISI in the 1960s, to coordinate and facilitate Northeast insurgents in their movement along India-Burma-East Pakistan border areas and watch the movement of the Shanti Bahini, a Chakma group, which was resisting Pakistan’s and later Bangladesh’s attempt to evict them from their homes and convert them to Islam. The whole of Rohingya Muslim community was subverted by the ISI for use against India and thus India should not grant asylum to them as it would be exploited by Pakistan’s ISI, which has decades-old links with them.

Rajinder Kumar, a retired IPS officer, was Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau.

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