New Delhi: Influx of Rohingya fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar is partly to blame for soaring methamphetamine use in its cities, Bangladesh has said. However, they believe that Rohingya are being pushed into the world of crime because they cannot legally work or, in many cases, access aid.
According to Bangladeshi officials, consumption of yaba – Thai for “crazy medicine” — is booming in Bangladesh. Seizures alone jumped more than 2,500 percent to 29.4 million pills last year compared with 2011 — and the business is worth an estimated $3 billion annually.
Police and government officials say the stateless Rohingya refugees, who cannot easily be traced, are preferred by traffickers’ as drug mules.
The authorities have cited a growing drug problem as one reason for pushing ahead with a controversial scheme to move thousands of refugees from their border camps to an undeveloped island in the Bay of Bengal.
The methamphetamine trade in Bangladesh has exploded in recent years, with increased smuggling and dramatically expanded consumption among manual laborers and recreational users, according to reports.
Hardline Islamists back Rohingyas
On Saturday, supporters of hardline Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam organized a march in Bangladesh’s port city of Chittagong Friday calling for the government to arm Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing a crackdown in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state.
Several Islamist parties have staged demonstrations over the issue in recent weeks and some firebrand leaders have called on the government to go to war with Myanmar to liberate Rakhine for the persecuted Rohingya.
Experts believe that Bangladeshi Islamist extremist groups could exploit the situation and forge closer ties with Rohingya militants.
India’s stand angers many
Since the onset of crisis, left leaning intellectuals and political parties like the CPI (M) and the Congress have been criticizing the government’s policy to deport 40,000 Rohingyas. They see this move as a departure from previous practice of offering shelter to other persecuted communities like the Tibetans, Afghans or the Hindus from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Intellectuals think that the Modi government isn’t keen on offering them refuge as they are Muslims.
They are filing petitions against the Rohingyas deportation; who are illegally living in India. It should be noted that Bangladesh which is ethnically the home of Rohingyas is not ready to take back their own people but wants India to help them out.
Jammu has the largest number of Rohingya, who have been living there for last five years. A media channel based in Delhi recently conducted a detailed survey on the allegations of Rohingyas having links with terror outfit and found them to be baseless. Even the CM of J&K went on record and said, that “no Rohingya in Jammu and Kashmir has been found involved in militancy-related incidents. No instance of radicalizing [of] these foreigners has been reported so far. Seventeen First Information Reports (FIR) have been registered against Rohingya for various offences, including those relating to illegal border crossing.”
According to the survey, only 14 FIRs implicated Rohingya. It had eight cases for lack of visa, two cases of rape, one case of cow slaughter, one case for causing injury, one case for selling goods in the black market and one for stealing railway property. However, the Inspector General of Police in Jammu found these crimes petty.
Pakistan Eyes Rohingya
Recently, a Pakistan-based group listed as a terrorist outfit by the United Nations and the United States was found openly collecting donations in the name of helping Rohingya Muslims.
People in Rawalpindi received leaflets inside some newspapers Monday requesting donations for the “oppressed Muslims of Burma,” an older name for Myanmar.
The two-sided flyers in the local Urdu language contained an appeal from Jamaat ud Dawa and its charity arm, the Falah e Insaaniyat Foundation.
The piece of paper showed photos of men, women, and children in dire conditions and suggested aid amounts. One family could be helped for three months for approximately $500, according to the piece of paper that included phone numbers to contact. Similarly, an injured person could be treated for approximately $150.
Maintaining the security in fragile North-east can be a challenge for India’s ‘Look East Policy’. Dhaka fears that the ISI will use the Rohingya refugees to prop up the Jammat-e-Islami, Bangladesh and other associated political groups to foment trouble. ISI can also use this crisis to open up another front against India in the North-east. Losing East Pakistan in 1971 permanently scarred our neighbors, so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if ISI tries for another adventure in the East by joining hands with ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army).
There is no doubt that Pakistan would leverage its jihadi links amongst the radicalized Rohingya refugees in India for sabotage or anti-India activities. Zakir Musa, the Kashmiri terrorist and one time Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander in his latest video release said that there will be blood bath if 8,000 Rohingyas in Jammu are removed.
Rohingya separatism has steadily acquired an Islamist dimension and India has done the right thing in clearing the air over the status of Rohingya refugees.