India’s Prime Minister: “What is at stake is the unity and integrity of our country.”
We told you in a brief post just three weeks ago (here) that Rohingya (Bengali Muslims) were increasing pressure on the Assam region of India resulting in violence and spreading panic. As a result of the aggression, hundreds of thousands of refugees have been created literally within a few days.
From the New York Times (that incidentally doesn’t use the word “Rohingya”). Could it be that they have invested in the western media meme that the Rohingya are just poor, suffering, stateless and victimized Muslims? No doubt, some are, but others are trained Islamists who understand how to create fear and chaos.
BRAJAKHAL, India — Like a fever, fear has spread across India this week, from big cities like Bangalore to smaller places like Mysore, a contagion fueling a message: Run. Head home. Flee. And that is what thousands of migrants from the country’s distant northeastern states are doing, jamming into train stations in an exodus challenging the Indian ideals of tolerance and diversity.
What began as an isolated communal conflict here in the remote state of Assam, a vicious if obscure fight over land and power between Muslims and the indigenous Bodo tribe, has unexpectedly set off widespread panic among northeastern migrants who had moved to more prosperous cities for a piece of India’s rising affluence.
A swirl of unfounded rumors, spread by text messages and social media, had warned of attacks by Muslims against northeastern migrants, prompting the panic and the exodus. Indian leaders, deeply alarmed, have pleaded for calm, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared in Parliament on Friday to denounce the rumor mongering and offer reassurance to northeastern migrants.
“What is at stake is the unity and integrity of our country,” Mr. Singh said. “What is at stake is communal harmony.”
300,000 people have become refugees!
Last week, the central government started moving to stabilize Assam, where at least 78 people have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled their homes for refugee camps. Then Muslims staged a large, angry protest in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, on the western coast. A wave of fear began sweeping through the migrant communities after several people from the northeast were beaten up in Pune, a city not far from Mumbai.
The local Bodo people (mostly Hindu and Christian), an indigenous ethnic group that has long inhabited this region of India, is fighting to keep Muslims from over-running the territory.
Here in Assam, the underlying frictions are over the control of land, immigration pressures and the fight for political power. The savagery and starkness of the violence have been startling. Of the 78 people killed, some were butchered. More than 14,000 homes have been burned. That 300,000 people are in refugee camps is remarkable; had so many people fled across sub-Saharan Africa to escape ethnic persecution, a humanitarian crisis almost certainly would have been declared.
“If we go back and they attack us again, who will save us?” asked Subla Mushary, 35, who is now living with her two teenage daughters at a camp for Bodos. “I have visited my home. There is nothing left.”
Be sure to read the whole New York Times article, here.
For new readers, see our whole Rohingya Reports category where we have archived stories about the Rohingya for five years.