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Dhaka displeased but yet to raise Rohingya pushback issue with Delhi

  • Published at 05:47 pm January 21st, 2019
Rohingya_Brahmanbaria border
Persons moored at the no-man’s land across Brahmanbaria border on January 16, 2019. These 30 individuals, including women and children, are believed to be Rohingya refugees being pushed out of India Dhaka Tribune

Over 1,300 Rohingyas have arrived thus far since May 2018  

Though displeased at the arrival of Rohingyas from India to an already-overburdened Bangladesh, Dhaka is yet to take up this issue with New Delhi, senior government officials concerned have told the Dhaka Tribune.

Approached by this correspondent, the home minister and the officials said that the issue will soon be raised with the Indians.

However, they could not come up with satisfactory answer when asked why this issue has not yet been discussed with the country’s first neighbour; especially since Rohingyas have been arriving in Bangladesh from India since May, last year.

Also Read - BSF tries forcing Rohingyas into Bangladesh from Brahmanbaria border

Some of the officials also expressed their “displeasure” with India over the issue and questioned India’s “good intentions” regarding helping Bangladesh on this issue. Pushing Rohingyas into Bangladesh instead of Myanmar is ‘simply unacceptable’, they said.

They furthered that more than 1,300 people belonging to the Rohingya community—one of the most persecuted minorities in the world—have arrived in Bangladesh; since May last year.

They have joined over one million already living in the country; all of whom have been forced to flee their homes in Rakhine to escape the brutalities of the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist vigilantes, and people from other ethnic groups.

Nearly 40,000 Rohingyas have fled to India to escape the atrocities in Rakhine; and recently the community has been subjected to threats of being deported by the government. The matter is now with the Supreme Court of India, although some of them have already been deported to Myanmar.

“We will raise the issue with India,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told this correspondent.

“We have instructed our Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to tell the Border Security Force of India that if you want to send them back, send them to Myanmar where they belong, not to Bangladesh,” he said.

“I am waiting for the feedback from the BGB chief,” he added.

“Since May, Rohingyas have started coming to Bangladesh from India, through different borders, and the number of arrivals at Cox’s Bazar stands now over 1,300,” said Abul Kalam, refugee relief and repatriation commissioner based in Cox’s Bazar.

“We have informed the Foreign Ministry of the development and it is for them to take this matter up with the Indian government,” said Kalam, who is an additional secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

“No, we have not raised this issue with the Indians,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official.

When asked about the issue, he said: “A few days ago, our new foreign minister was appointed. We will talk amongst ourselves before taking the matter to the Indians.”

When asked why this issue had not been raised with Delhi in the months since May, when the Rohingyas started coming from India, the official avoided replying.

“There is a possibility that the new foreign minister will visit India next month. Perhaps, he will raise this issue with his Indian counterpart at that time,” said another official.

“Sending Rohingyas to Bangladesh is unacceptable,” he said.

The government officials Dhaka Tribune spoke to are of the opinion that sending Rohingyas to Bangladesh runs counter to what India says publicly; about helping Bangladesh resolve the crisis that engulfed the country.

“India always says publicly that they are with us on the crisis. Does this type of development reflect the statement? I do not think so,” said a senior official.

“We are not sending the Rohingyas forcibly to their homes considering their safety. No Rohingya-hosting countries should do that in the current situation,” said another senior official.          

However, he said: “If the Rohingyas were to be sent out, then they must be sent to Myanmar, their country. It cannot be Bangladesh under any circumstances. I think we have taken on a burden well beyond our capacity.

“It is high time that other countries, especially those neighbouring Myanmar, share some burden and make all-out efforts to solve the protracted crisis because it is not only going to affect Bangladesh, but also, the region and beyond.”

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