Threats to kill Rohingyas in Jammu — what about West Pakistan refugees asks Kashmir Inc

Srinagar: A day after Jammu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (JCCI) threatened to ‘identify, catch and kill’ Rohingya refugees in Jammu, the issue has snowballed into a major controversy with Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Inc) threatening of dire consequences. The Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has assured action against JCCI leaders for threatening and intimidating Rohingya refugees.

Terming the statement “irresponsible and divisive” Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Inc) has warned that same could be applicable to the West Pakistan refugees as well. Urging Jammu chamber to withdraw its statement, the Kashmir Chamber, in a statement here on April 8, said, “Instead of involving itself in activities beneficial for trade and commerce, JCCI has taken upon itself the role of vigilantalism. KCCI urges Jammu Chamber to immediately withdraw the statement, otherwise be ready to face consequences.”

Awami Itihaad Party (AIP), led by Er Rashid, on April 8 registered a formal complaint here against Jammu Chamber for intimidating Rohingya refugees. The complaint seeks action as warranted under criminal law against JCCI for spreading terror and threatening peace of Jammu province. CPI(M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami (April 8) urged the government to deal with the situation as per the law. “Refugee issue is always a human issue and must be dealt with humanely. There are different types of refugees in our state and they are all outcome of tragedies. The highly provocative statement of Jammu Chamber smells communal and it has the potential to turn the situation communal. It can create new controversies in the state which will have serious and harmful implications for the state.”

Even the High Court Bar Association here, April 8, described the threat by JCCI president as “intemperate, arbitrary, ruthless and barbaric.” Bashir Sidiq, General Secretary of the Bar, maintained that at a time when “ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims at the hands of Myanmar National Army and Buddhist goons is going on and thousands of Rohingya Muslims have taken refuge in boats near the sea-shore and the so-called democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of National League for Democracy in Myanmar, is not even prepared to condemn the brutal killings of Rohingya Muslims, the threat by JCCI president to launch an agitation under the name “identify and kill movement” by describing these innocent and persecuted Muslims as criminals and drug traffickers is highly horrifying and shameful.”

The Bar Association further maintained that there are about a million West Pakistan Refugees, residing illegally and unlawfully in Jammu from 1947 and besides them, thousands of Punjabis, Bengalis, Biharis, Nepalese and Tibetans have been allowed to settle in different parts of Jammu unauthorizedly and even state subject certificates have been issued in their favour, fraudulently. “Asking a few thousand of Rohingya Muslims, whose presence in Jammu is protected by United Nations credentials, to leave Jammu or else they will be identified and killed, is clearly a communal plot, orchestrated at the behest of the saffron brigade, which deserves to be denounced by one and all.” The statement emphasized that appropriate protection ought to be provided to the Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi nationals living in Jammu by the state machinery.  

The Kashmir Economic Alliance chairman Haji Mohammad Yasin Khan, while speaking to the local news-gathering agency KNS, April 8, said if JCCI feels unsafe due to Rohingya and Bangladeshis, why it was silent over the issue of West Pakistan refugees. The JCCI statement, according to Khan, seems to be part of a deep-rooted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, while addressing a gathering in Dak Banglow Khanabal in south Kashmir, April 8, assured action against JCCI leaders for threatening and intimidating Rohingya refugees. “All those who will try to take the law into their hands will face action. All those who will try to threaten or intimate them (Rohingya Muslims) will face action.” she added.

JCCI president, Rakesh Gupta, had on Friday in Jammu threatened to launch an “identify and kill” campaign against Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis to force them to leave Jammu and other areas of the state where they are living temporarily. Gupta has been quoted as saying, “If this is not done, we would be left with no option but to launch a movement of “identify and kill” against foreign settlers who are criminals across the state. It would not be an offence if they are pushed to death (maut ke ghaat utaray gain)since they are not citizens of this state.”The JCCI president added that they would be doing it as part of their corporate social responsibility. “Neither the government of Jammu & Kashmir is signatory to any United Nation’s treaty nor Article 370 allows illegal foreign settlers for any permanent settlement in the state. We won’t let them survive here on our land and the owners on whose land these foreign settlers are living should be booked under PSA.”

The Chief Minister, who is also the home minister of the state, had said in January this year in a written reply to a question by BJP MLA Rajesh Gupta in the state Assembly that there are around 5,700 Rohingya refugees in Jammu. “No Rohingyas has been found involved in militancy-related incidents. Seventeen FIRs have been registered against 38 Rohingyas for various offences including those related to illegal border crossings,” she was further quoted in the reply.

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