The Centre is planning to identify, track and, if possible, deport Rohingya Muslims living illegally in Jammu and Kashmir. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Monday held a meeting with Director General of J&K Police SP Vaid, Border Security Force Director General KK Sharma and Intelligence Bureau officials in this regard.
The meeting was held after an assessment revealed that of the 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living illegally in India, 10,000 are in Jammu and Kashmir. “If deportation is not possible, we should at least know where they are so that their activities can be checked. Given their vulnerability to radicalisation, they are being considered a potential security threat,” a senior Home Ministry official told Hindustan Times.
The government survey also found that most of them lived in the districts of Jammu and Samba. However, security officials are alarmed by their population in the region. “There has to be some design in their coming to J&K, which happens to be one of the farthest corners from their point of disembarkation in India,” another official told DNA.
Facing persecution in Myanmar, members from this community usually take three infiltration routes to India – by sea, via the Bangladesh border and via the Chin region along the Myanmar border, according to The Times of India.
Although there has been no report of Rohingya Muslims involved in militancy, security agencies fear that the community may become a soft target for Pakistan. Recently, posters had come up across Jammu asking Rohingya Muslims to leave the state. The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, which is leading a campaign against the refugees, had put up these “Quit Jammu” billboards.
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.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission has recognised around 14,000 Rohingya Muslims living in India as refugees. However, India does not accept the status and treats them as foreigners who have entered the country illegally.
Article 370 grants special autonomous status to the state and allows it to have its own Constitution. It was introduced in the Constitution in 1947 and allows the state to retain the Dogra-era law prohibiting outsiders from buying land. The central government cannot overrule this rule, which does not restrict people from abroad from living and working in the state.