Sandeep Phukan/The Hindu
New Delhi, September 16: The Indian government is yet to spell out its stand on undocumented Rohingya living in the country, but Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -led State governments in Assam and Manipur, have asked their police, especially in the border districts, to “push back anyone who tries to cross the border.”
The Central government is to state its policy on the illegal Rohingya immigrants in the Supreme Court on September 18.
While Assam shares a 262 km border with Bangladesh, three other northeastern States — Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland — are also front-line States. The BJP governments in Assam and Manipur have issued “alerts to mount extra vigil in the border areas.”
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is believed to have conveyed to the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and top officials of the State police to “push back if any Rohingya family tried to cross over the Bangladesh border, seeking refuge.”
The Manipur government, led by BJP’s N. Biren Singh, too has instructed the police to crack down in borders towns like Moreh that routinely see brisk cross-border trading. It is not uncommon to find Myanmarese traders residing in these areas on a temporary basis.
Sources say the decisions by the State governments follow “intelligence inputs from the Centre that terror groups could use the refugee crisis to sneak in their members and pose a security challenge to the country.”
The intelligence input was discussed at a recent security review meeting held by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Assam Chief Minister, however, refused to spell out his government’s position. “It is not a State issue but a national issue and we will follow what the Centre decides,” said Mr. Sonowal, while confirming that “his government has mounted extra vigil on the Indo-Bangla border.”
The Rohingya — a minority Muslim community in the Rakhine state of Myanmar on the border with Bangladesh — have been forced to flee the country following periodic ethnic clashes and crackdown by Myanmar’s Army. The latest bout of violence erupted last month, following an attack on a police post.
Around 3,00,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh since the August 25 crackdown on their settlements.
(The featured image at the top is that of the Chief Minister of Assam and BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal)