Syed Junaid Hashmi
JAMMU: Civil Society, right wing affiliates, mainstream political parties are up against one of “the most persecuted, excluded and vulnerable community” in the world, Rohingya Muslim Refugees from Myanmar. They say they fear the refugees are in cohorts with Kashmir separatists to change demographic character and Dogra identity of Jammu.
There are only 1,219 Rohingya (Burmese) families comprising 5,107 members who are staying in Jammu’s Narwal Bala, Bhathindi, Qasim Nagar and Sidhra belts. But the right-wingers believe they were brought to Jammu from Myanmar under a conspiracy and are now being issued Aadhaar cards, state subject certificates, ration cards and Voter I-cards to make them permanent citizens of Jammu. Though they do not identify who hatched the conspiracy but most of them accuse some ‘unidentified Pro-Pakistan elements’.
BJP, which is in power, is silently backing the agitators while opposition political parties especially Congress and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) which suffered serious political reverses in the 2014 assembly elections are leaving no stone unturned to convince Jammuites that they are the real custodians of Dogra identity. This, Congress is doing by issuing handouts while Jammu based JKNPP is putting up hoardings besides both the parties being part of agitators seeking forcible removal of UNHCR recognised Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) which is a panel of well-meaning and convent educated businessmen went two steps ahead and in complete contrast to their image, issued a statement threatening to start a ‘catch and kill’ operation against refugees, who according to them were threat to the Article 370 and Dogra identity of Jammu region. The President of JCCI Rakesh Gupta said that since Rohingyas are ‘criminals, drug peddlers and ‘future terrorists’, there is no harm in their targeted killing.
Chamber apparently is oblivious of the PIL that lawyers Hunar Gupta and Sunil Sethi have filed. It seeks directions from High Court to the state as well as central government to deport Rohingya refugees from Jammu on basis of a “future” security threat.
Against the PIL, two Supreme Court lawyers, Shah Faisal and Fidel Sebastian, have filed an impleadment application on behalf of the Rohingya Refugees demanding that they be heard before an order is passed. The impleadment application is pending with the High Court Division Bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed. The Jammu Chamber is invoking Article 370 for throwing out Rohingyas.
Amid all this, the Rohingya Refugees are worried lot and pondering over the sudden change in the environment in Jammu region. They are unable to understand when none bothered about them for nine long years since their arrival in 2009, why they are at sharp focus now.
In the series of events taking place in Jammu to deport Rohingyas and Bangladeshis; activists of Bajrang Dal, a right wing Hindu organisation took out a rally from Hanuman Akhada near Tawi Bridge to Shalamar Chowk. Brandishing weapons and shouting slogans, the activists of Bajrang Dal were led by Mahant of Purani Mandi Temple Rameshwar Dass who stressed on the need for the complete unity of the Hindus for ousting Rohingyas and Bangladeshis from Jammu.
State President of Bajrang Dal Rakesh Sharma said that the unit is committed to driving out Rohingya and Bangladeshis from Jammu. “It was an induction ceremony. A good number of youngsters were today given weapons to further Hindu cause. These weapons are for the protection of honour and dignity of Hindus living in minority in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Sharma. “Hindus are already a minority in Jammu and Kashmir. With Rohingyas and Bangladeshis being settled in Jammu, threat of Hindus being reduced to minority even in Jammu has increased. We want these illegal settlers to be thrown out without any further delay.”