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Rohingya tangle and Indian dilemma

Before analyzing Indian dilemma we should know something about Rohingyas.

Facts about Rohingya 

: They are ethnic  Muslim community of Myanmar

: Majority of Rohingyas live in Rakhini State of Myanmar

:Myanmar considers them migrants from Bangladesh

: UN considers them one of the most endangered human on earth, as they are homeless and stateless people.

:They are often called “Boat people”  as they stay in boats in the Bay of Bengal as they are not welcomed by neighbouring countries.

Their main problem in Myanmar:

  1. Human rights: They are discriminated in every sphere of life from job to amenities. Their mobility is restricted.
  2. Citizenship issue: Citizenship Law of 1982 of Myanmar made it very difficult for Rohingyas to acquire citizenship. To get citizenship of Myanmar, they have to prove 60 years residency in Myanmar.
  3. Voting Right: They don’t have voting right as Myanmar considers them Bangladeshi immigrants.

Evidences of discrimination in Myanmar

  1. Operation Nagamin, 1978: It was a joint operation of Military and Immigration Department of Myanmar to register citizen & expel non  – citizens from the country, mainly aimed against Rohingyas.
  2. Operation Pyi thaya, 1991: It was a military exercise in Rakhine State to expel non –citizen Rohingyas from Myanmar, to make Myanmar  a clean and Beautiful Nation.
  3. Rakhine Roits of 2012: It took place between Muslim Rohingyas and Rakhine Buddhists  which drove out thousands of Rohingyas into Bangladesh and Lakhs of Rohingyas were forced to live in camps or “ghettos”.

What is Indian dilemma in this respect?

Indian dilemma lies in that both Myanmar and Bangladesh are important for Indian  Regional geopolitics.

Myanmar wants to push Rohingyas into Bangladesh as they consider them Bangladeshi, while Bangladesh considers Rhingyas as Myanmari, as they settled in Rakhine state during British time or even earlier.

India can’t side with either.

From Myanmar’s point of view

  • On the one hand, India can’t afford to ignore Myanmar as it connects  India with S-E Asian countries, so  important for India’s “ Act East Policy”.
  • Moreover, it cut –off China from Bay of Bengal and hence important for India as it limits the important link between China’s “Silk Route” and “Maritime Silk Route”.
  • Myanmar’s support is required to contain insurgency in N E states.

From Bangladesh’s point of view

  • India can’t ignore Bangladesh, as it has longest land boundary with Bangladesh
  • Most of India’s insurgent dominant area surrounds Bangladesh and so  India needs Bangladesh support.
  • India needs the backing of Bangladesh in its south Asian politics as well as in various regional forums like SAARC, BIMSTEC, etc.
  • Bangladesh is also important for the integration of North East into India
  •  Bangladesh may also provide alternative to strategically important “Silliguri Corridor”, as proposed “Tetuliya Corridor” to escape Chinese “oversight” from near Doklam


India can’t ignore the strategic importance of either of its neighbours and so it is silent on the issues of human right violation in Myanmar or refugee problem of Bangladesh. India only talks about Rohingyas as its own security concern. India is also not keen to mediate as it does not want get trapped in this sticky condition.

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