Why India should shelter Rohingyas at any cost
India’s idea was and should remain every religion is true, every path leads to the same destination.
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Taking a break from my nazaria-e-Pakistan analysis routine to focus on the important part of my life, I had decided to not tweet or blog for few months. And while my life continues to demand my full attention, I couldn’t help but pick up my pen for silence at this hour would be tantamount to condoning injustice.
Again, I have spoken on numerous wrongs within Pakistan; today I have a more important plea to make and I hope my readers listen, as they’ve done in the past.
There is nothing Indian about denying rohingyas refuge
The discrimination and persecution of Rohingyas has existed since the 1962 coup by the Burmese Army, which went on to legally strip Rohingyas of their Burmese nationality in 1982. The current round of oppression is therefore only a continuation of the ethno-communal identity politics played by Buddhist majority Burma (Myanmar).
Truth is, before the coup, Rohingyas' did not hide their affinity for the erstwhile East Pakistan based on commonality in language, culture and religion — and even attempted a failed rebellion against Burma, planting seeds of segregation that have come to haunt them more than once.
The Buddhist Burmese haven’t necessarily been accommodative of their differences with the minorities — before Independence, they saw Rohingyas' through the lens of British agents and after Independence as occupiers.
British India’s reign extended in the East until Burma and the policy of migrating labourers led to a Rohingya settlement in Burma. This is akin to people from India being taken as labourers to Africa, Singapore, East Timor, et al.
While media reports have followed after each wave of Rohingyas' persecution and subsequent migration, one thread binds them all — zilch action and resolution of the crisis by co-religionists, immediate and extended neighbours and the international community and humanity in general.
I expect no solution from the Rohingyas' co-religionists because they themselves are embroiled in apartheid against their minorities and citizens in the name of Arab versus non-Arab or the more common Muslim versus Infidel, and I am piqued by a bucket of tears any Pakistani would weep at this ethno-religion discrimination by the Buddhist Burmese while they, themselves, proudly celebrate the birth of Pakistan – which, ironically, was based on the same premise.
And it could be that Pakistan would accept few Rohingyas in the short term, only to eventually discriminate and strip them of their identity, culture and language as they have done with Sindhis and Kashmiris.
The ideal solution would be for Rohingyas to be equal and free citizens in their own land – Burma (Myanmar), but that would require the US, India and China to align and speak in one voice against Burmese Military Junta, instead of the present trend of placating Burma for its strategic-economic importance.
My analysis does not see this happening, as Burmese Generals are too smart not to sense the global sentiment against Islam and too cunning not to play one country against another.
Well, frankly, most Generals across the world have won medals for strategy rather than bravery.
Should India shelter Rohingyas?
Let’s understand its implications and India’s tryst with Islam.
The fact is that Hindu Raja Dahir (Sindh) gave refuge to family members of Imam Hussain, who were sought by the Umayyad in their deadly hunt to eliminate the last of the Ahl-e-Bait (Prophet Muhammad’s immediate family); certain historians claim Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who was hunted by the Umayyad was on his way to Sindh when he was seized at Karbala in Iraq and killed.
The barbarity of the Arabs that followed has the natives of Sindh in tears even today — they mourn equally for Hussian and Raja Dahir.
Another fact is that Islam is an exclusivist religion. It has institutionalised segregation and apartheid as norm for non-Muslims. Its history is littered with disrespect for civilisation, culture, laws and humans that are in any manner different to its worldview.
India has sheltered persecuted Jews, Zoroastrians, Muslims of Prophet's family and Syrian Christians. Photo: Reuters
Further, when in minority, instead of integrating within the local culture and community, Islam — if followed — would require special privileges and perpetuate ghettos.
Partition of India on the basis of the two-nation theory is a fact. Accession in Kashmir in the name of Islam is also a fact. And that the seemingly never-ending Hindu-Muslim divide has become even more acute with a Hindu nationalist government in India is also a fact.
With these concerns laid bare, should India still give refuge to the predominantly Muslim Rohingyas?
My answer is yes.
Because, Rohingyas are truly the sons and daughters of India.
Because India’s national fabric is not divisiveness, it is universal acceptance and tolerance. India’s idea was and should remain every religion is true, every path leads to the same destination.
Because the very argument of the Hindu Right — that in order to preserve India it is imperative to deny refuge to Muslim Rohingyas — is incongruous with India and its civilisational ethos.
India stands today, despite millennia of invasion, not merely because of unceasing resistance but primarily because of blessings of millions that were once given refuge and chance to live as brothers and sisters.
The idea of Rome, Persia or Egypt could be dead, but India stands only because someone has to guide the world towards universal brotherhood and love — who better than India?
What better opportunity than now?
Fear begets hatred, fearlessness is love.
Do the right thing India.