We are the descendants of a tradition that embraces visitors and those seeking refuge, offering them love and protection as much as possible and displaying the finest shades of humanity.
Even while the fundamental rights of the citizens are fully safeguarded in the democratic system envisaged by the architects of modern India, the rights of those arriving in our country are preserved as well through humanitarian outlooks. It’s through our humane interventions beyond the narrow mentality of nationalism that the rest of the world swiftly recognized the moral eminence of a nation build by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru that is deeply rooted in ideals. The sincerity and enthusiasm we displayed in standing up for those persecuted or in misery, no matter where they are from and paying heed to their cries have raised the glory of our nation. How many hapless people have sought a refuge in the country in the last seven decades?
We offered a safe haven for thousands including Dalai Lama when the Buddhist followers faced persecution in Tibet. Countless Hindus and Christians from Sri Lanka arrived as refugees and settled in the country. The political crisis in Afghanistan compelled India to accept thousands of refugees from the country. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi opened the borders in 1971 when lakhs of Hindus, Muslims and tribals fleeing oppression from Bangladesh approached the country. We didn’t compromise humanity before the threats from US President Richard Nixon and Foreign Affairs Secretary Henry Kissinger. When thousands of refugees from Burma (present-day Myanmar), once a British colony like India, arrived in the country since the 80s, the Central and state government offering them protection without any reluctance was part of a policy we steadfastly practiced. According to a 2014 estimate, there are about two lakh refugees in India. Majority of them are from Tibet. Those in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are facing persecution from the army and Buddhist extremists, seeking asylum in different parts of the world. Of them about 50, 000 of them have arrived in India as well. They are the Rohingya Muslims whom the United Nations described as the ‘most persecuted minority in the world’. The Narendra Modi government has declared that the country is unwilling to accept the minority community who have been victims of brutal and merciless atrocities carried out by the army and the Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar. Home Minister Kiran Rijiju has also revealed that the Centre had directed state authorities to deport the ‘illegal’ Rohingya who reside scattered across the nation.
The extremely regressive and narrow-minded approach of the Centre towards the Rohingya refugees inviting sharp criticisms is normal. The answer to the question as to why the BJP government fails to show a humanitarian approach towards the Rohingya just like other refugees, is simple. They are a religious community that follow an ideology different from that of Hindutwa politics. The central government claims that the Rohingya refugees are illegal immigrants. Therefore they do not have the right to live in the country and should be deported. Even though this inhuman stance of the government has been challenged in the Supreme Court, those are aware of the undercurrents of the Sangh Parivar politics knows that Modi government wouldn’t be willing to change its policies that stem from blind hatred towards a community. Even while Modi paid a two-day visit to Myanmar, UN human rights and refugee agencies had appealed to compel Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s ruler who is also a Nobel laureate, to take a humane stance on the Rohingya crisis. Modi during his meeting with Suu Kyi urged to tackle the Rohingya extremists in order to restore peace in the Rakhine state and safeguard the unity and territorial integrity of Myanmar. It’s when the world as a whole shares apprehensions over the rare crisis faced by Rohingya based on the UN report, that Modi presented the regressive stance of the RSS as the nation’s policy. It’s a clear violation of a policy our nation so strongly held on to. It’s also akin to challenging the international pacts. India should certainly protest against this approach. India, the land of Mahatma Gandhi, can never stand with the cruelty of throwing an entire community into the death-pit.