Kolkata/New Delhi: Rohingya infiltrators have settled no farther than about 50 km away from Kolkata. An NGO called “Desh Bachao Samajik Committee” (DBSC) has put in place a refugee camp for them. The Rohingyas, a report in a Bengali news medium says, sneaked into Indian territory in three separate groups and settled down in a village called Hardah near the Baruipur town of the South 24 Parganas district. A video of the whereabouts of these Rohingyas went viral on WhatsApp recently.
There are elements within the country that are helping the Rohingyas infiltrate. They are using the waterways via Sandeshkhali to enter West Bengal. In December 2017, 29 Rohingyas were brought into the camp erected by the NGO. On 13 February, 22 more sneaked in. In the third phase, they helped 53 infiltrators get in.
The infiltration continued this month, with 5 Rohingyas entering West Bengal on 10 March. A crowd comprising an unspecified number of Rohingyas made their way to India last Tuesday.
On questioning DBSC as to how it is managing the requisite funds to look after these illegal immigrants, it said it was not alone in this business; 40 other NGOs were helping it out. They have sought help from the Mamata Banerjee government as well.
Recently, the Sheikh Hasina government of Bangladesh had declared several NGOs of the type illegal in that country for fostering terrorists in their midst.
The West Bengal government of the Trinamool Congress, however, disagrees with the Union government’s policy of deporting Rohingyas instead of offering them a shelter in this country. In January, intelligence agencies wrote to the Union Home Ministry that the ruling Trinamool Congress government had wantonly violated the central government policy of not letting in Rohingyas. They said the Banerjee government was sheltering the infiltrators too.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had tweeted this in September 2017:
We do support the @UN appeal to help the Rohingya people.
We believe that all commoners are not terrorists.We are really concerned
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) September 15, 2017
It is estimated that about 40,000 Rohingyas are spread across the country at this moment.
Muslims constitute more than 27% of West Bengal’s population. In a few districts, they are the majority. Since the electoral fall of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government and decline in the popularity of the communists, the community has thrown its weight behind the Trinamool Congress. An addition of Rohingyas to the population further skews the State demographics in favour of the Muslims, which benefits Banerjee’s party in all elections.
The Union government’s attitude towards Rohingyas is ambiguous. On the one hand, “it is submitted that continuance of Rohingyas’ illegal immigration into India and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, is found to be having serious national security ramifications and has serious security threats,” the Centre had said to the Supreme Court in September 2017.
On the other, in that very month, India had rushed 53 tonnes of relief materials to Bangladesh and pledged all help to Dhaka in tackling the humanitarian crisis after nearly 4,00,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees had fled to the country from Myanmar following the ethnic violence in the Buddhist-majority nation. A source in the Union Home Ministry said this was done to “pre-empt the economic reason for Rohingya infiltration into India”.
With inputs from PTI reports