Posters have come up across Jammu asking Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi refugees to leave the state. The “Quit Jammu” billboards have been put up by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, which is leading a campaign against the refugees.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on January 20 had informed the Assembly that around 5,700 Rohingya Muslims were living in Jammu and Samba districts of the state. She had said that the refugees, who fled persecution in Myanmar, had come on their own and some Delhi-based NGOs were helping them financially, reported PTI.
The stateless ethnic group has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar. They have been driven out of their home state Rakhine. While hundreds have died starving on boats while fleeing the country, many have settled in and around Jammu and Kashmir. “Four years ago, I came to Jammu. The junta in Myanmar had unleashed the gravest atrocities on Rohingyas and the world was silent. They are raping our girls and women, setting our houses on fire, firing at us as if we are sitting ducks, and chopping people into pieces,” Mohammed Younus, 70, told Hindustan Times.
However, the JKNPP believe that the refugees were destroying the beauty of the Jammu city. “Article 370 does not allow the government to settle immigrants here in Jammu and Kashmir. How have they settled these criminals here? They should immediately leave Jammu. Otherwise, we will force them to leave,” JKNPP chief Harshdev Singh told KashmirLife. He said his party would soon start fresh protests against the refugees. “They are occupying posh areas of Jammu region. BJP is silent since it is in power. But we won’t sit silent,” he said.
The party has held protests against the refugees in the past. They have held that the settlement of the refugees was part of the conspiracy to reduce Dogras to minority in the state. “It is conspiracy to reduce Dogra population to minority in their bastion Jammu by engineering demographic changes,” Singh had told PTI.
What is Article 370?
Article 370 grants special autonomous status to the state and allows it to have its own Constitution. It was brought into the Constitution in 1947. It allows the state to retain the Dogra-era law prohibiting outsiders from buying land, and the central government cannot overrule it. But it does not put any restriction on people from outside living and working in the state.