Refugee (Rohingya) crisis and India’s policy

The US has recently banned Myanmar’s military forces commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, on charges of violating human rights of Rohingya refugees. According to the US, Myanmar military forces have carried out the brutal murders and atrocities of Rohingya refugees by following rules and laws and human rights. In addition, the Myanmar government has not taken any action against those who persecuted Rohingya Muslims, but has given protection to such people.

Rohingya – location and status

Recently, the International Ministerial Conference on Religious Freedom was organized by the US. It was at this conference that the US announced a ban on Myanmar military commanders. With this announcement, the US has become the first country to ban Myanmar army officials in public. The Rohingya are predominantly Muslim people living mostly in Rakhine province of western Myanmar. The capital of this province is Sitwe, here is also the special economic zone of India. The Rohingya speak a dialect of Bengali language instead of the Burmese language commonly spoken in Myanmar. Although these Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar for centuries but Myanmar believe that the Rohingya came to Myanmar during colonial rule. On this basis, the Myanmar government has not yet granted full citizenship status to the Rohingya community. Burma’s citizenship law states that the Rohingya community, as an ethnic minority, will be eligible for Myanmar citizenship only if women or men Rohingya provide proof that their ancestors resided in Myanmar before the year 1823, otherwise they would be foreign residents. Or will be considered an Associate Citizen, even if one of their parents is a citizen of Myanmar. Since Rohingya Muslims have not received citizenship status, they have also been denied basic facilities. They also cannot become a part of Myanmar’s administrative service and are victims of linguistic exploitation. The recently released report by Amnesty International gives a sense of the most heinous acts done by soldiers in Myanmar which mainly include acts done to women and children. In addition, the movement of Rohingyas in Rakhine province has also been banned.

History of Rohingyas

Today, to know why Myanmar, Bangladesh and India are face to face on the Rohingya issue, the history of Rohingya community needs to be highlighted. In the eighth century the Rohingya lived in Arakan, an independent kingdom, today called Rakhine. Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries the Rohingya community came into contact with Islam through Arab merchants and strong ties developed between Arakan and Bengal. In the year 1784, the king of Burma (modern-day Myanmar) captured independent Arakan and thousands of refugees (now called Rohingya) fled to Bengal. In the year 1790, a British diplomat named Hiram Cox was sent to help these refugees who built the city of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Even today a large number of Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazar. Later, Britain annexed Burma and made it a province of British India in the form of Myanmar.


Workers from Burma migrated to many parts of British India in search of work and thus the Rohingya also joined India. In the year 1942, Japan attacked Burma and expelled the British from there. Burmese nationalists started attacking Muslim communities when the British retaliated. As a result, in the year 1948, tensions between the new government of Burma and the Rohingya people increased. The majority of Rohingyas demanded that Arakan be merged into Muslim-majority Pakistan. At this the Burmese government expelled the Rohingya people and the Rohingyas appointed as civil soldiers were dismissed. In the fifties, the Rohingya community began to retaliate the Burmese government through an armed group called the Mujahid. In the year 1962, General Ni Vin finally came to power and adopted a strict policy against the Rohingya people. In 1977, Burma’s military government – the junta – launched large-scale operations to find the Rohingya population and areas, and two lakh Rohingya people had to flee to Bangladesh. In 1989, Burma was renamed Myanmar. In 1991, two and a half million Rohingya people had to flee from Myanmar. Later, through a repatriation agreement with Bangladesh, between 1992 and 1997, over two lakh Rohingya reached the Rakhine region. After coming here, he started fighting with the Buddhists of Rakhine. Since they were Muslims and were in trouble as to the rights of Buddhists. In the year 2012 and 2016, there have been a large number of incidents of bloodshed between Buddhists and Rohingyas, in which soldiers also took revenge action against Rohingya. Due to the above developments, the Rohingya refugee issue often remains a matter of discussion.

Indian attitude towards Rohingya

According to statistics from the Ministry of Home Affairs of India, there are about forty thousand Rohingya refugees in India. They have reached India from Bangladesh. India considers all Rohingya refugees as illegal migrants and is looking for an effective repatriation agreement to send them back to their country of origin. Today the refugee crisis in South Asia is increasing. In such a situation, if India supports the Rohingya, then in some form or the other, the pressure will be increased to give protection to the Tamils, Madhesis and the Chakmas. In such a situation, India’s national interests will be affected. Keeping all these things in mind, India has not signed the United Nations Refugee Treaty, 1951. India is conscious of its internal security. India has faced a large number of Chakma refugees from Bangladesh in Assam and the challenges they pose. The security relationship has a different and larger dimension in the context of the Rohingya. The crisis has affected the interests of the three nations and it is necessary that India take concrete steps on the repatriation of the Rohingya in order not to let tension emerge in bilateral relations. The question is how long the Rohingya will remain in the foreign country. The Government of India has recently given two hundred and fifty houses to the Rohingya people in Myanmar, with a commitment to invest $ 250 million over the next five years. India wants to solve this problem in similar ways.

United Nations Refugee Treaty, 1951 and Protocol on the Status of Refugees, 1967

  • A total of 145 countries have signed the Treaty (1951) and the Protocol (1967), as well as the Treaty under the auspices of the United Nations.
  • The treaty was executed in order to find solutions to the refugee crisis that emerged after the Second World War. It also provides for the definition of refugee, their rights and responsibilities towards the refugees of the signatory country.
  • This treaty protects the rights of people oppressed and forced to leave their country due to caste, religion, nationality, affiliation with a particular social group, or pathetic political views. But such people, who are related to war crimes or are directly related to terrorism etc., are not recognized as refugees.
  • This treaty is inspired by Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR grants the victim’s right to asylum in another country.
  • The 1967 protocol covers refugees from all countries, before the treaty made in 1951 included only refugees from Europe. Presently, these treaties and protocols play a major role in protecting the rights of refugees. Their provisions are as relevant today as they were when they were formed.

Difference Between Refugees and Migrants


Refugees are forced to flee their country for fear of persecution or oppression. While migrant migrating from his country may be due to various reasons like employment, family, education etc. but this does not include harassment. In addition, the migrant (whether in his own country or in another country) continues to receive the benefits of various forms of protection by his own country.

Why is India not involved in this treaty?

India has not even signed the United Nations Refugee Treaty, 1951 and its 1967 protocol. Currently, there are more than 2 lakh refugees in India. Thus, India is included in some big countries which are not included in this treaty. 140 countries are involved in this treaty. The reasons for India not joining this treaty can be understood as follows:

The borders of South Asia are mainly fragmented and there is no competent system to control them. If any kind of human conflict or crisis arises in this region, a large number of refugees will leave for India. This type of situation can lead to two main problems. First, the resources and infrastructure of the region are not strong enough to suddenly provide refuge to a large number of refugees. Second, it will also affect India’s demographic. It is worth noting that the demographic change is mainly responsible for the unrest in the Northeast region of India and NRC is being implemented in Assam only as a solution.

According to some analysts, India’s past experience with the UNHCR (United Nations flagship organization for refugees) has not been good, so India views the policies of this organization with suspicion. In 1971, the role of the UNHCR in the then East Pakistan developments, which led to the creation of Bangladesh, was not good in the context of India, leaving a large number of Bangladeshi refugees in India. Now these refugees are considered to be the main causes of various problems in Assam, Tripura etc. areas of India.

Refugees in India

Asia has one-third of the world’s displaced population, or two crore population. India has a good record in refugee protection. Although India is not a part of the United Nations Refugee Treaty, 1951 and its protocol and there is no formal refugee policy of India, according to the High Commission of the United Nations, there are a total of two lakh refugees in India. There are one lakh Tibetans from China and 60,000 Tamils ​​from Sri Lanka. Along with this, India has also been allowing refugees to come for political reasons. For example, India allowed refugees from East Pakistan to come to India during the war with Pakistan in 1971. In this war, India also trained and supported Muktawahini fighters. Bangladesh was born after this war.

The conclusion

The refugee crisis has been the most burning issue of the world in the last century. Due to various natural and human disasters like earthquake, flood, war, climate change etc., the problems of displacement of people have arisen in the last one century. Various efforts have been made at the international and national level to deal with them, in which the UNHCR and United Nations Refugee Treaty etc. can be counted as major efforts. Even in the present-day unrest of the Middle East, the humanitarian crisis that has arisen in Latin America, the refugee crisis in South Asia and the Rohingya crisis in the main. The above refugee crises have affected various countries including India. Northeast region of India is facing similar problem. Although it has caused crises in different countries, the problems of refugees cannot be turned back. India has also been providing refuge to refugees from time to time, but India’s large population and limited resources prevent it from adopting a policy of reception for refugees, as well as causing internal conflict and security in various areas. Has happened. Therefore, in the light of the above idea, instead of giving refuge to India, India can consider other options like financial assistance, improving the situation of the countries concerned, etc.

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