While New Delhi’s stance is that Rohingya refugees in India pose a national security threat amid fears of radicalisation, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said: “There has not been any sign of radicalisation in these people”.
Shahidul met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in New Delhi on Thursday evening. This was the third meeting between the two foreign secretaries in the last one and a half month after sessions in Colombo and New York.
Shahidul, who claims to have been to refugee camps several times in the last few weeks, was also hopeful of India’s support to Bangladesh in the wake of the refugee crisis.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary, however, said there was always a possibility of radicalisation since radical elements would try to take advantage of the situation but it was the Bangladesh government’s responsibility to not allow that to happen.
The highest-ranking Bangladesh diplomat discussed all the aspects of this issue with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval Thursday, said they discussed all aspects of the issue.
To Shahidul, violence in Myanmar Rakhine state is “ethnic cleansing”. He also added that the international community has been made aware of how the country was “snatching the rights” of the Rohingya.
“It is not only a people’s movement but also a security issue, a border issue, which has the potential to destabilise the region, not just areas in Myanmar and Bangladesh,” he said.
When it came to India’s position on Rohingya posing a security threat, Shahidul said: “Not that it always becomes (a security threat), depends on how you manage it. So far the government of Bangladesh has been able to contain that. It has not moved into a security area. The population continues to remain neutral. They all look forward to go back. It is the responsibility of the State not to allow it (radicalisation) to happen.”
The Bangladesh Foreign Secretary said there is a tendency to view such issues from the prism of radicalisation, but that obfuscates the fact that it is above all a humanitarian issue, involving women and children who “need support”.
On the issue of mass graves of Hindus found in the violence-hit region, Haque said that that was a part of ethnic cleansing.
“Once there is ethnic cleansing I do not think people who commit ethnic cleansing make separation between Muslims and Hindus. They want to clear the whole area to set up an export processing zone I am told. It is the government’s responsibility to protect all its citizens,” he added.