Rohingya Refugees: A potential threat to Jammu but who are they?


Who are they?

A recent episode that emerged has begun to make feel its presence across the wide political spectrum of J&K. The brewing issue of illegal immigrants that are alleged to have surreptitiously settled in Jammu province, whose population has grown profusely over a few years is unsettling to its residents and concerned representatives. BJP and JKNPP have protested and asserted that insidious forces within the leadership of the State have clandestinely aided to accommodate these immigrants in Jammu with an ulterior motive whereas other major parties like NC, Congress and PDP have yet not found an apposite stance on this critical issue.

Who are these Immigrants?

Myanmar immigrants, “Rohingyas” come from the Arakan region of Myanmar bordering Bangladesh. The official stance of the Myanmar government, however, has been that the Rohingyas are mainly illegal immigrants who migrated into Arakan following Burmese independence in 1948 or after the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. In 1982, General Ne Win’s government enacted the Burmese Citizenship Law, which denied Rohingya citizenship, and hence rendered a majority of Rohingya population stateless.

What happened?

The Rohingya people have been described as “amongst the world’s least wanted”. Facing persecution from the Myanmar Govt., Rohingyas migrated to neighbouring Bangladesh, Thailand and Pakistan. However, they were not welcomed in these Muslim countries either. Even Pakistan, who blatantly shows solidarity with Kashmir muslims on the surface failed to accept Rohingyas. It is confounding how Rohingyas managed to cover a distance of about 3500 Km to reach and settle in Jammu (see map). The Rohingyas population takes the Bengal border or the Bihar-Kishangarh border route to enter into the country as they can easily blend with the local population ( Upon their migration, Bangladesh was their first point of entry. Rohingyas have been coming to India since 1992, and grown since then.

India mostly seen as a haven in a volatile region has hosted refugees fleeing conflict or persecution in countries like China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka etc. The impact of large-scale migration, and their gradual adsorption in our social fabric can have ramifications that pose a danger to internal security and raise social concerns as migrants are anticipated to indulge in criminal activities.

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