The presence of the Rohingya Muslims in Jammu and nearby areas poses a threat to the national security, feel locals as they fear breach of peace and radicalisation in the region
Bhatindi, a hub of Rohingya Muslims in Jammu
“Atithi devo bhava” is the cardinal principle of Indian culture but when it comes to national security, one should think twice before blindly welcoming the guests. Same is the case with Rohingya Muslims.
The Rohingyas became homeless in 1982 when a law passed by the Myanmar Government denied them citizenship rights. Thousands of Rohingyas from Myanmar were left stranded. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Pakistan along with many other countries refused them the entry. They called them the ‘people of nowhere’. The process of illegal settlement of Rohingya Muslims was started way back in 2008 across India. They came to India through Indo-Bangladesh border and settled in states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Assam, Delhi, but most prominently in Jammu.
“Rohingyas taking refuge in the Jammu region amounts to opening of yet another can of worms in the already festering refugee problems that beset the State.”
- Jaibans Singh, Defence Expert.
During my recent visit to Jammu, a friend of mine from Jammu who guided me through the hubs of Rohingyas, told me that earlier they were living in tin-roof shanties but now they are converting them into permanent brick houses. The bigger question is, “Who permitted Rohingyas Muslims to settle down in Jammu when Article 370 of Constitution of India doesn’t allow even an Indian citizen from other states to settle down in J&K.”
Land encroached by Rohingya Muslims in the outskirts of Jammu
Earlier Rohingya Muslims were living in tin-roof shanties but now they are converting them into permanent brick houses. The bigger question is, “Who permitted Rohingyas Muslims to settle down in Jammu when Article 370 of Constitution of India doesn’t allow even an Indian citizen from other states to settle down in J&K.”
Why Article 370 not applicable on Rohingyas?
“If Article 370 doesn’t allow people who are not resident of this State to settle in Jammu, then why Rohingyas?” asked RanjanPandita. “Why we are allowing such people, whose own country disowned them, to settle down here? These people pose a threat to security as well as law & order. They are staying here illegally and have occupied Government land in Jammu”, he added. Their presence is a threat for the State is the overwhelming feeling among the residents of Jammu. Already having the sense of discrimination against the Muslim majority in Kashmir Valley, arrival of Rohingyas further creates a panic for the Hindu-majority region.
“Their agenda is to encroach the whole Jammu in small pockets. The presence of these Rohingyas in our State is a dangerous and fraught with risks”
- Sabzaar, Auto-mechanic.
According to Jaibans Singh, an expert on Jammu & Kashmir, “At the time of Independence refugees from West Pakistan settled down in border areas of Jammu. They have, as yet, not been integrated into the State. Certain people from the Valmiki community who were brought to the state in pre-Independence times are also not fully integrated into the fold of the State.” “This is because, by law, people from outside are not given State Subject status in Jammu and Kashmir and continue to exist as refugees. They do not even have the right to vote in the State Legislative Assembly,” Singh emphasised.
He further said that Rohingyas taking refuge in the Jammu region amounts to opening of yet another can of worms in the already festering refugee problems that beset the State. When the State has no legal provision of integrating migrants it should not allow such refuge to take place; sanction even on humanitarian grounds would require amendment to the existing State law.
“When the State has no legal provision of integrating refugees it should not allow such migrations to take place. The Rohingya Muslims are not our problem”, said a local politician.
Many of the Rohingya Muslims have been settled in the hilly and forest areas across Jammu’s Tawi River. They have been residing over dozen localities in and around Jammu. Some of the prominent localities include Bhatindi, Narwal, Nagrota, and Belicharana.
PIL to bring the threat to light
According to the PIL filed by Hunar Gupta Advocate, for the last few years since 2008, there is an abrupt increase in a number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar. As per the government version 13,400 Myanmari and Bangladeshi illegal migrants are living in various parts of the State of J&K. However, the actual figures are much more.
The litigation also claims that in 1982, the Myanmar Government declared them as non-national which led to their migration to neighbouring Bangladesh, Thailand and even Pakistan; however, they were not welcomed in these countries as well. This led to their influx into India through porous border with Bangladesh. The land mafia of the State of J&K in order to encroach upon the State’s natural resources especially forest areas as well as water bodies makes these illegal immigrants to settle in such areas.
The PIL says, “Due to illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar there is an increase in pro-separatists as well as anti-Indian activities in the State of J&K especially in the communally sensitive Jammu Region which has so far displayed maturity and tolerance. These illegal foreigners are eating illegally the already meagre resources of the State of J&K”.
Rise in Crime and Involvement in Drug Trafficking
According to a senior police officer of Jammu, “In recent days the crime rate has gone high in Jammu and it is the Rohingyas directly or indirectly involved in the crimes. Even they are suspected to be involved in drug trafficking and thefts. There are some reports which say that terrorist organisations have made attempts to radicalise sections of the Rohingya youth. And if it happens then this is going to be a big threat for Jammu and Nation.” Even the head of militant organisation formed by Rohingya by the name HuziArakan namely Abdul QudusBurmi and other Rohingya militants were shown sharing dais with Hafiz Saeed in Karachi.
Local Support and Fake Documents
The larger threat is, even many of the illegal immigrants have acquired ration cards, voter cards, aadhar cards as well as permanent resident certificates illegally. It is alleged that some politicians along with some bureaucrats are helping these Rohingyas to get them settle down and helping in getting vital documents. According to the sources, even some Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims are using forged documents to buy land and to get their children admitted in Government schools. There are reports that these refugees are helped by some NGOs with dubious credentials by providing them with the basic amenities and helping their children to get education in madrasas.
Many of the Rohingya Muslims have been settled in the hilly and forest areas across Jammu’s Tawi River. They have been residing over dozen localities in and around Jammu. Some of the prominent localities includeBhatindi, Narwal, Nagrota, and Belicharana.
“Their agenda is to encroach the whole Jammu in small pockets. Even Government did not pay any attention to redress the problem. Interestingly all the refugees are living on the outskirts of Jammu city. The presence of these Rohingyas in our State is a dangerous and fraught with risks,” said an auto-mechanic Sabzaar.
Bhatindi, turning into Mini Pakistan
It’s very risky to get a picture click here. Besides Rohingya Muslim houses, you will find houses of many J&K politician houses in this area. Surprisingly, all these houses are on forest land. It is alleged that terrorist training camp is also there in Bhatindi. So many Muslims of Srinagar have a house here. During the winters, they used to come and stay here.
According to a local, so much of government’s housing fund is being used in unauthorised colonies. A local lady shopkeeper in Bhatindi said that lots of things have changed in this region after 2010. The number of people from Muslim community is increasing day by day. Earlier there were hardly one or two masjids (Mosque) in this area, but now you will find more than 50 grand mosques in this area. Who is funding for these mosques? They are encroaching our lands.”
Agenda to disturb Peace of Jammu
A college boy Sohan Pandita raises eyebrows over Rohingyas settling down in Jammu and calls it as an agenda behind their migration. He said, “What is the need for Rohingyas to come to Jammu crossing all the states. They are brought down here to disturb the peace of Jammu. They are also receiving support from separatists and anti-India elements. They have spoiled Kashmir and now trying to disturb Jammu as well. We fear a breach of peace here in Jammu. ”
Several political and social groups have expressed their concern over the illegal settlement of the Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims in Jammu.
While speaking over the phone to the writer of this report, Rakesh Gupta, President Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Jammu said, “Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims are a big danger for Jammu. They were brought to Jammu deliberately to disturb the peace and demography of the region. Their intention is to spoil the social fabric of J&K”.
As the security threat is growing, there is a sincere expectation of the locals from the Government agencies to take up the issue on priority basis.
(With Inputs from Rajeev Pandita)