India is looking at ways for Rohingya refugees living in the country and in Bangladesh to go back to their home state of Rakhine in Myanmar, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said on Thursday, adding that Indian and Bangladesh were holding “very high level conversations” on the matter, PTI reported.
Jaishankar said the refugee crisis should be addressed “realistically”, and that just condemning it was not enough. “The fact that there is an exodus of a large number of people from Rakhine state to Bangladesh is clearly a matter of concern,” he said. “Our objective will be to see how they can go back to their place of origin. That is not easy.”
More than six lakh Rohingyas have fled violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state since August, after security forces launched an operation in response to attacks allegedly carried out by militants. Most of them have crossed the border into Bangladesh, where they live in crowded refugee camps. The refugees have described brutal violence and severe food shortage in Rakhine.
While India doesn’t share a border with Myanmar near Rakhine, about 40,000 of them live in the country. In August, the Centre had announced it was planning to deport all 40,000. On September 18, the government told the Supreme Court that the continued illegal immigration of Rohingyas to India had “serious national security ramifications and threats”. On October 13, the Supreme Court said no Rohingya refugee should be deported till the next hearing in the case on November 21. The court said the government needs to strike a balance between national security and protecting the human rights of the refugees.
Jaishankar made the comments on the refugee crisis during his speech at an event organised by a think tank on the prospects of India-Japan cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and Asia-Pacific regions. He said India’s behaviour in the region did not mean it was a leading power, but shows it was an “aspiring leading power”, according to The Hindu.