Government of India was today quizzed on whether it has been able to establish links between Rohingya refugees in India and Pakistan-based terror groups.
In a written question, Lok Sabha Member for Mumbai South Rahul Shewale asked the Union home ministry “whether the Government has established Rohingyas’ link with various Pakistan based terrorist groups”.
The question comes in the wake of media reports quoting ‘intelligence sources’ that Pakistan-based terror groups and ISI, the country’s intelligence unit, have established links to Rohingyas living in Jammu.
According to a statement by the home ministry in 2017, India is home to 40,000 Rohingya refugees, most of whom are living camps in six locations – Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Nuh in Haryana’s Mewat district.
However, Shewale did not get a precise answer to his question.
“There are reports about some Rohingya migrants indulging in illegal activities,” was the reply given by the ministry to the MP’s question in Lok Sabha today. The ministry did not specify the nature of illegal activities, or specifically affirm or deny whether the Rohingyan refugees are indeed in touch with terror groups from Pakistan.
Rohingya people originate in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, and are an Indo-Aryan speaking ethnic group in a country where most of the inhabitants speak non-Indo-Aryan languages. They were brought to Myanmar as laborers and assistants from what is today known as Bangladesh by the former colonial rulers of Myanmar, the British.
They started flowing back to Bangladesh in 2017-18 after Myanmar Army started a widespread crackdown on alleged extremism within the community.
Rohingya, whose language is very similar to Bengali, claim that the Myanmar Army indulged in torture and genocide in an effort to drive them out of the country.
Myanmar has maintained that the Rohingya are not indigenous and does not recognize them as full citizens.
Many Myanmarese also fear that the Rohingya, who are mostly Muslim and observe polygamy, are increasing too fast in numbers and will ‘outbreed’ them.
Today, an estimated 1.3 million Rohingya live in refugee camps in Bangladesh, while only around 400,000 are still estimated to be living in Myanmar. Pakistan has an estimated 3.5 lakh, while Saudi Arabia is home to around 2 lakh.
Even though the Rohingya in India came via Bangladesh, Bangladesh is not keen to take any more refugees, either from India or any other country. The country has instead been trying to reduce population growth rates of Rohingya in its camps by encouraging the women to adopt family planning.
Nityanand Rai, junior minister for home affairs, today also added that India has conducted talks with Bangladesh about the Rohingya issue.
“The issue of repatriation of the Rohingyas has been discussed with Bangladesh authorities at the highest level wherein both the countries have agreed on the need to expedite their safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation to their homes in Myanmar,” he said in response to another related question from the Shiv Sena MP.