Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Origin of Rohingyas and why are they not an ethnic minority?

Now the point is, there are two issues that I wish to address as part of illegal immigration in India as on date. Obviously, the immediate news peg is Rohingya, but something that has been simmering and festering for a very long time, at least since 1960s or even the 50s, is the issue of Bangladeshi immigration in the Northeast. Both needs to be addressed because there is a clear continuum between the two. There is not too much of a distinction except for the ethnic group that is coming in. In fact, I would go on to say, there is no ethnic distinction also because there are clear scholarly publication written by Burmese scholars, who go on to say that Rohingyas were originally Bengali Muslims from the place Chittagong. They were recorded as Chittagongians in colonial records of the British.

That Rohingya apparently is an ethnic term which can be applied across religious sections is, I think is, factually incorrect and historically incorrect. Rohingya has always been, understood as Rohingya Muslims only, not any other community. Let’s be very clear about this. In fact, as a part of our intervention petition before the Supreme Court, we have filed an article of 2005, (I have brought this along with me just for the sake of reference), by a scholar from SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research. She is, let’s say a scholar, in this institution, who has traced the origins of Rohingyas, their historical origins and the development of a Muslim enclave in the state of Rakhine or Arakan and then has explained, what is that this country has been grappling with just like us since 1948. Okay, this not a relatively new issue, this has been going on since 1948.

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