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New home for illegal immigrants

Wednesday, 15 March 2017 | Hari Om Mahajan | in Oped

Though delayed, but it is commendable that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has finally taken a tough call by asking for a report from the Jammu & Kashmir Government on the illegal settlement of the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis in the State

The Narendra Modi-led NDA Government has finally taken cognizance of the illegal settlement of Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims in and around the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu. It was none other than Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, conversant with the affairs of the sensitive border State of Jammu & Kashmir, who, on March 3, asked the Jammu & Kashmir Government to submit a report on the illegal settlement of the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh also reportedly sought information on the steps being taken by the Jammu & Kashmir Government to “check any further flow of Rohingyas in Jammu and ensure that they don’t fall into the hands of militants and anti-national elements”.

It was during a high-level security review meeting at the North Block that the Union Home Minister sought a “detailed report” from the Jammu & Kashmir Government of which the BJP is coilation partner. He asked the State Government to tell the “number of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis settled in Jammu, the time period from which they were living in Jammu and reasons for their settlement and all other related issues”.

Those who attended the meeting included National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, who just returned from Israel; Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Mehrishi, and Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain, besides other top officers of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and other intelligence agencies.

The Home Minister will again hold a security review meeting after receiving a report from the Jammu & Kashmir Government.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who held first high-level review of the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir, after over a month, due to his busy campaigning in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, expressed his “concern” over the increase in the number of illegal settlement of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis in Jammu region following an alarm raised by various political parties, including Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), the Shiv Sena, and other social organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal (BD), the Dogra Sadar Sabha (DSS), Jammu Civil Society (JCS) and

Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). They have been demanding their expulsion from Jammu, saying “their settlement in Jammu could pose a live threat to national security”.

The JCCI has even asked the Jammu & Kashmir Government to “either scrap Article 370 or implement it in its entirety”. Its argument is that “if the State Government considers Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan as foreigners not eligible for citizenship rights in Jammu & Kashmir, how could it allow the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis settle in Jammu?” This is a “negation of Article 370,” it said.

The JKNPP has, on the other hand, unleashed “Quit Jammu Movement” and warned the State Government of serious consequences if it didn’t expel these foreigners from Jammu. 

It’s not only political groups and social organisations which have been taking up the Rohingya and Bangladeshi issue in a big way and holding protest demonstrations almost on a daily basis.

The Jammu & Kashmir BJP and Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Lok Sabha member from Udhampur-Doda, Jitendra Singh, too, have

taken up this issue to conciliate the agitating people of Jammu and allay their fears.

The MoS in the PMO has sought an “in-depth probe into settlement of Rohingyas on outskirts of Jammu and need for effective steps by the Government to keep check on them”. “They (Rohingyas and Bangladeshis) don’t settle in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, Punjab and Haryana and travel up to Jammu'” smacks of a conspiracy, he had said.

On the other hand, State BJP president and MLA from Jammu west Sat Sharma, has taken up the issue with Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “These illegal immigrants are being assisted to get ration cards and some have even obtained Aadhaar cards with the help of the local people. There is a large scale conspiracy to change the demographic of Jammu and the people should not take the issue lightly,” he has said.

Significantly, Mehbooba Mufti has acknowledged that more than 13,000 Rohingyas, besides other foreigners, entered Jammu on their own but has told the State BJP president that “deportation of the Rohingyas will not be appropriate” and that her Government has placed at the disposal of the Rohingyas 24 teachers so that their wards could get education at madrasas they have set up. These madrasas include Madrassa Raiaz Ul Uloom Tahfaz Ul Quran Muhajreen, Narwal Bala; Madrassa Tul Mahjreen, Jallalabad Sunjwan;  and Dharo Alam in Jugi Railway Station, Bari Brahamana.

Eleven teachers have been associated with madrasas Raiaz Ul Uloom Tahfaz Ul Quran Muhajreen; 12 teachers with madrasas Tul Muhajreen and one teacher is associated with Dharo Alam Madrassa.

Rohingyas call Jammu their second home. One of their leaders Mohammad Younus has filed a Public interest litigation (PIL) in Jammu & Kashmir high court, Jammu Bench, and urged it to direct the Jammu & Kashmir Government not to expel the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis from Jammu. The PIL was filed on February 28 and the high court asked the Jammu & Kashmir Government to “file objections in two weeks”.

That the Union Home Minister has taken note of the Rohingya and Bangladeshi issue, which has created a serious situation in Jammu,

is a step in the right direction, though belated. They must be deported at the earliest as many of them are involved in “criminal activities” according

to the Jammu & Kashmir Government.

What is highly appreciable is the fact that the Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the Jammu & Kashmir Government to submit a detailed report on the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis ignoring the Chief Minister’s statement that their deportation would not be “appropriate”.

(The writer is former Dean, Jammu University’s Faculty of Social Sciences)