by Nadeem Qadir in Dhaka;
Like the Urdu-speaking Biharis who are camped in different parts of Bangladesh and calling themselves “Stranded Pakistanis” for nearly 50 years, this small South Asian country cannot afford to have another group calling itself “Stranded Myanmar Rohingyas.”
The Biharis have multiplied in population, got married into Bengali families for better lives, opened businesses and own landed property. Thus a mix Bengali-Bihari generation already exist and growing. One does not know their political ideology or mind-set.
The scene in a cricket match between Bangladesh and Pakistan sometime back was a shocker. Many in the crowd were seen supporting Pakistan and not their own country! Who were these people? When probed, it was found they were the “Stranded Pakistani” and their new mixed generation.
The Rohingya are even worse. I reported on the first major exodus in 1991 and in no time the population multiplied by unbelievable jumps. The men from this community are lazy and the women have to do all the chores. Even after the latest exodus three years ago of 750,000 Rohingya from Myanmar it is the same situation as per media reports. Bangladesh hosts more than 1 million Rohingya in total by now.
In 36 months at least 100,000 births were recorded, while many have not been listed as they left the camps to become Bangladeshis with their Rakhine relatives, who naturally aided them, and a large number have gone abroad using Bangladeshi passports. The
According to the Save the Children an estimated 75,971 children under three years or nine percent of the total Rohingya population were born in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar district.
Until now there is no solid proof when they will be repatriated to Myanmar. Only words of by different countries that matters to Myanmar along with international organisations.
The United Nations appear to be more pressed with ensuring their food, health and accommodation and along with some of its member states have done three things that is nothing short of interference in Bangladesh’s internal matters and appears to be aimed at ensuring the permanent stay of the Rohingya in this already overpopulated country.
First, they forced Bangladesh to stop erecting fencing around the camps to stop the displaced Rohingya from running away, stopped the resettlement to Bhashan Char Island in the Bay of Bengal and forcing the government to re-open mobile telephone services.
The men are busy committing crimes mainly drug peddling, prostitution and fighting turf battles leaving at least a dozen a dead in recent months.
The Rohingya have shattered the socio-economic status of the most popular tourist destination and wreaked havoc with the local climate by massive deforestation. Yet, arrangements are being improved for their prolonged stay in the country.
Thus Bangladesh is stuck with the nationals of two countries — Pakistan and Myanmar — and if Dhaka has to play in any role in the China-India and US dominance game, it must first put down its foot on sending back the Rohingya and ensure quick departure of the Biharis, who decided to wrought in camps with free utility services and making big money with drugs as well as prostitution as per media reports, because those who left for Pakistan are in even worse condition in the Karachi or few other places. They are labelled “traitors” and rightly so.
They betrayed the Bengalis who are the owners of Bangladesh in 1971 and refused to give up until February 1972 holed up in Mirpur area of Dhaka.
The Biharis who collaborated with the Pakistani Army during the Independence War returned to Bangladesh with late General Ziaur Rahman’s pro-Pakistani regime and many got back their businesses as well as landed properties.
These elements too continue consider Pakistan as their master and not our leaders, and sided with Zia and his current opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party in elections. They speak in Urdu even after 50 years of staying in independent Bangladesh and argue in favour of BNP and against the ruling Awami League which Bangladesh to Independence. It has been a no show by our diplomats, some of whom are blamed by intelligence for guiding the government wrongly in allowing the Rohingya to enter Bangladesh.
With Pakistan trying to warm up ties with Dhaka, the most important two issues that should be placed before moving an inch towards “basic normal ties” from practically “no ties” are the apology for the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh and immediate measures to take the “Stranded Pakistanis.”
Common in both cases is that one Pakistani High Commissioner told me years ago in my show “Frankly Speaking,” Bangladesh’s first English-language talk show, on NTV that the Biharis are stateless, while the international community is also trying to label the Rohingya as “stateless.” The show is still on with a different anchor.
We are also watching with concern the growing number of nationals from strife-torn African countries like Nigeria and Sudan making Bangladesh their new home. Some of them are getting involved in serious crimes. Let us be alert now rather than later.
Let us no fall into their trap anymore and let us not delay the departure of these two foreign nationals from the soil of Bangladesh.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen took pride in saying that “Bangladesh is gaining attention, both from the United States and globally, due to its robust economic growth, stability and geopolitical position.”
Let us use this opportunity for furthering our national causes and before the us, the Bengalis of this land, become a minority in our own land.