Dhaka, September 14 (BDNews24/Indian Express): In a complete change of policy on the Rohingyas of Myanmar, India told Bangladesh on Thursday that it is fully with it on the Rohingya issue.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj rang up Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at 9.45 pm and assured her of New Delhi’s full support to Bangladesh’s stance on the Rohingya issue.
The Prime Minister’s Deputy Press Secretary Nazrul Islam told bdnews24.com that Swaraj spoke about India’s pushing Myanmar both bilaterally and multilaterally so that they take back the refugees.
“What India is saying is that Myanmar must stop atrocities against the Rohingyas, Islam said.
India Rushes Aid
Earlier in the day, Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla, handed over 53 tons of relief material for the Rohingya refugees to theBangladesh authorities.
With the Indian government being briefed by its envoy in Dhaka on the crisis in Bangladesh over the unending flow of Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday sanctioned supply of humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
The supplies arrived Chittagong on Thursday and the Indian High Commissioner distributed the relief material among the displaced Rohingyas.
A top government source told The Indian Express that New Delhi took a “humanitarian view” after taking into consideration two crucial inputs — firstly, pleas from Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali last Saturday, and secondly, consultations with Indian envoy Harsh Vardhan Shringla who briefed them on the ground situation.
Shringla was called to New Delhi urgently Monday, and he briefed South Block and North Block officials over the last two days. He returned to Bangladesh Wednesday, after getting an assurance from the government about the relief assistance.
Last Saturday Jaishankar urged Myanmar that the situation in Rakhine state be handled with “restraint and maturity”, with focus on the “welfare of the civilian population alongside those of the security forces”.
“It is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the state is restored expeditiously,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
Muslims Protest Against Rohingya Crisis, Demand Strict Action
In an unusual move last Saturday Dhaka asked New Delhi to put pressure on the Myanmar government to take steps to restore peace and stability, and to stop the flow of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh.
“We had explained our difficulties to the Indian government about the present crisis. The Rohingyas are coming in thousands to Bangladesh. They are a huge burden on us economically. We hardly have enough land to provide shelter to the refugees,” a top source said.
Ali had explained to Jaishankar that Bangladesh was “under tremendous strain”.
Their 40-minute meeting was part of Bangladesh’s outreach to the international community to “put pressure on Myanmar to do something to restore peace and stability” and “stop the flow of refugees.
Two days ago, the UN’s Human Rights Chief Prince Zeid criticized the Indian government’s plans to deport Rohingya refugees.
The Indian envoy in Geneva responded saying that New Delhi is “concerned” about “illegal migrants” who can pose security challenges, and that enforcement of law should not be mistaken for lack of compassion.
(The featured picture at the top shows Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina)