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Rohingya influx is a threat to common security of the entire region

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

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The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Rohingya Refugees, wikimedia commons
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The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.

“Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region,” Shringla told IANS during an interview.

“Bangladesh has engaged itself to address the issue. They have taken up the issue with the UN. The Bangladesh government is also working through multilateral agencies besides bilateral negotiations with Myanmar.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to repatriate the Rohingya Muslims. This is a humanitarian crisis even though the issue posed a common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for all the countries of the region.”

Over 1.15 million registered Rohingya have been residing in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, known as the Cox’s Bazar region, after they fled Rakhine to escape a military crackdown on their villages last August.

To a question about extremist activities in Bangladesh, the visiting Indian envoy said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pursued a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism.

“After the terror attack in Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in July 2016, law and order agencies have been active against terror activities. No major incident has taken place since. The issue cannot be resolved overnight. This is a continuous process,” Shringla said.

"Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region," Shringla told IANS during an interview.
Bangladesh Map, Pixabay

The High Commissioner came here on Thursday and held a series of meetings with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Governor Tathagata Roy and other senior officials.

The visiting diplomat during his meeting with Deb discussed various issues like connectivity, people to people contact, hassle free movement of Indians to Bangladesh, trade and economic activities.

The Indian envoy said that Bangladesh has been promoting peace and security not only within its territory but ensuring regional and international peace and security.

Also Read: Sundarbans’ activists are against the upcoming NTPC power plant in the area 

About China’s rising cooperation with Bangladesh and investment in Dhaka, the diplomat said that India’s relations with Bangladesh were enduring and sustainable.

“India’s relationship and partnership with Bangladesh was based on cooperation, mutuality of benefit and respect for each other. People to people contact is very important,” Shringla said.

The High Commissioner said that 111 agreements have been signed between India and Bangladesh in the last ten years in different sectors. India has given $8 billion in three Lines of Credit to Bangladesh.

According to the envoy, total trade between the two countries in 2016-17 was $7.5 billion while $3.3 billion worth Indian investment proposals are registered with the Bangladesh government.

He said that India is currently supplying 660 MW of power to Bangladesh from West Bengal and Tripura.

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

For this, an optical fiber cable link has been established between Akhaura (along Agartala) and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Regarding the 2019 Bangladesh parliamentary elections next year, the Indian envoy said it was the country’s internal matter.

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Representational Image, Pixabay

“Bangladesh has a vibrant democracy like ours. The country is holding periodic elections. We look forward to a very free and fair process of election in Bangladesh.”

He said that India-Bangladesh relations were based on common history, language, culture besides a common border of over 4000 km.

“Today we are enjoying the best ever relations. During the past 10 years, relations have improved enormously. Cooperation, friendship and partnership are beneficial for both the countries.

“The countries have invested significantly to develop infrastructure along the borders to promote trade among the two neighbors. The border infrastructure is being further developed to enhance trade and economic activities between the two nations.

“Currently 36 land customs stations (LCS) are operational along the India-Bangladesh border. Further upgradations were being done along the Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura besides West Bengal borders,” he added.

Shringla said that to further improve the ongoing bus services between Dhaka, Kolkata, Agartala, Shillong and Guwahati, more steps would be taken to make the bus services more effective as it is inexpensive for people of both the countries.

Five Indian states – West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share the 4,096-km border with Bangladesh. (IANS)

 

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Rohingyas Repatriation to Myanmar Scrapped by Bangladesh

Negotiations for repatriation have been in the works for months.

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Rohingya, myanmar
An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Bangladesh’s plans to begin repatriating Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar Thursday were scrapped because officials were unable to find anyone who wanted to return to the country that has been accused of driving out hundreds of thousands in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The refugees “are not willing to go back now,” Refugee Commissioner Abul Kalam told The Associated Press. He said officials “can’t force them to go” but will continue to try to “motivate them so it happens.”

Some people on the government’s repatriation list disappeared into the sprawling refugee camps to avoid being sent home, while others joined a large demonstration against the plan.

Rohingya, myanmar
Workers build a Rohingya repatriation center in Gunndum near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

UN urged a halt to repatriation

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh from western Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 2017 to escape killings and destruction of their villages by the military and Buddhist vigilantes that have drawn widespread condemnation of Myanmar.

The United Nations, whose human rights officials had urged Bangladesh to halt the repatriation process even as its refugee agency workers helped to facilitate it, welcomed Thursday’s development.

Firas Al-Khateeb, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Cox’s Bazar, said it was unclear when the process might begin again.

“We want their repatriation, but it has to be voluntary, safe and smooth,” he said.

Bangladesh officials declined to say whether another attempt at repatriation would be made Friday.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters in Dhaka late Thursday that “there is no question of forcible repatriation. We gave them shelter, so why should we send them back forcibly?”

Rohingya, myanmar
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Pleading with Rohingya

At the Unchiprang refugee camp, a Bangladeshi refugee official implored the Rohingya on Thursday to return to their country over a loudspeaker.

“We have arranged everything for you, we have six buses here, we have trucks, we have food. We want to offer everything to you. If you agree to go, we’ll take you to the border, to the transit camp,” he said.

“We won’t go!” hundreds of voices, including children’s, chanted in reply.

Some refugees on the repatriation lists, which authorities say were drawn up with assistance from the UNHCR, said they don’t want to go back.

‘I don’t want to go back’

At the Jamtoli refugee camp, one of the sprawling refugee settlements near the city of Cox’s Bazar, 25-year-old Setara said she and her two children, age 4 and 7, were on a repatriation list, but her parents were not. She said she had never asked to return to Myanmar, and that she had sent her children to a school run by aid workers Thursday morning as usual.

“They killed my husband; now I live here with my parents,” said Setara, who only gave one name. “I don’t want to go back.”

She said that other refugees on the repatriation list had fled to other camps, hoping to disappear amid the crowded lanes of refugees, aid workers and Bangladeshi soldiers, which on Thursday were bustling with commerce and other activity.

Rohingya, Myanmar
Rohingya refugees shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Plan to return 150 a day

Bangladesh had planned to send an initial group of 2,251 back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day.

Myanmar officials, speaking late Thursday in the capital, Naypyitaw, said they were ready to receive the refugees. Despite those assurances, human rights activists said conditions were not yet safe for the Rohingya to go back.

The exodus began after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts. The scale, organization and ferocity of the crackdown led the U.N. and several governments to accuse Myanmar of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Most people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not accept that the Rohingya Muslims are a native ethnic group, viewing them as “Bengalis” who entered illegally from Bangladesh, even though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, as well as access to education and hospitals.

Rohingya, Myanmar
Rohingya refugees cross floodwaters at Thangkhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. VOA

Refugee camps bleak

The refugees survived the ransacking of villages, rapes and killings in Myanmar, but for many, life in Bangladesh’s squalid refugee camps has been bleak.

The refugees who’ve arrived in the last year joined a wave of 250,000 Rohingya Muslims who escaped forced labor, religious persecution and violent attacks from Buddhist mobs in Myanmar during the early 1990s.

Access to education and employment has been far from assured.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who hopes to retain power in December elections, has repeatedly complained that hosting more than a million Rohingya is taxing local resources.

Negotiations for repatriation have been in the works for months, but plans last January to begin sending refugees back were called off amid concerns among aid workers and Rohingya that their return would be met with violence.

Foreign leaders, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, criticized Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore for her handling of the Rohingya crisis.

Also Read: Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due To Forceful Repatriation

But on Thursday, Pence said that U.S. officials were “encouraged to hear that” the repatriation process would begin.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would continue working with international partners including the U.N. “to ensure that the Rohingya themselves are part of any decisions on their future.” (VOA)