Myanmar crisis: What changed Indian stand from 1971 to 2017

During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, around 1 crore refugees migrated from Bangladesh to India. The then Indira Gandhi government supported their movement for an Independent nation and waged a war against Pakistan. We won the war and the East Pakistan transformed into today’s Bangladesh. But, what changed India’s stand from 1971 to 2017? India went against the whole world in supporting the Myanmar government to curtail the activities of Rohingyas. India opposed a Bali Declaration which “called upon all the parties to show respect to Rohingyas in the Rakhine state regardless of their faith and ethnicity.” India supported the cause of Bengali Hindus but opposed the aspirations of Rohingya Muslims to form their own nation.

According to Al-Jazeera, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are concentrated in eastern part of Myanmar and their population is around 10-12 lakhs. There exists a long battle between minority Buddhists in Rakhine state and the Rohingyas. Religious tensions have been recently increased which led to incessant influx migrants into Bangladesh territory. According to UN report, around 3 lakh Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to escape the atrocities committed by the Myanmar’s government. The irony is that Myanmar is a Buddhist dominated country and led by a Noble Peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. The government is in a constant war with Arankan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) – an armed rebellion group which represents the minority Rohingyas. But, the Myanmar’s government is going beyond their call of duty in restricting the flow of immigrants. According to Amnesty International, the government is implanting landmines across the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to restrict the migration. This is an outright Human Rights Violation.

India is unconditionally supporting the Myanmar’s government. Indeed, the long held Indian stance and strong ties between the governments is compelling the Modi government to support Nay Pyi Taw. India is also aware of the strengthening relationship between China and Myanmar. India can be easily replaced with China in case we do not support the Myanmar’s government. Supporting Rohingyas will also mean that India is in principle open to the concept of forming new nations. This stance would contradict India’s stand on the demand for separate Kashmir and North Eastern states. Also, supporting ARSA would mean that India is encouraging terrorism in the foreign lands. So, India had no other choice but to support Myanmar’s government. But, India could have extended categorical support instead of unconditional. Gandhi used to say that a person has to be separated from her work to maintain cordial relationship. To foster a relationship, unjustified actions ought to be highlighted and criticised.

Though the governments may give umpteen number of reasons, the underlying reason is only political and religious. BJP is predominantly projected as Hindu nationalist party. Supporting a Muslim cause may risk the ire of its supporters. This phenomenon is also evident with the support of Israeli government. Israel is a Jewish dominated country and opposes Muslim organisations mostly due to Palestine issue. So, there is no wonder that the Israel is funding Myanmar’s Junta (army). In 1971, we supported Bengali Hindus but in 2017, we are averse to the subjugation of minority Muslims. India had a great history of supporting world causes bereft of our self-interest. Taking forward this unhindered legacy, we should atleast oppose the blatant subjugation of innocent Rohingyas.