Cases of men and women enslaved in bonded labour or trafficked for marriage have started to emerge in India after they managed to escape or were rescued and found their way to Rohingya settlements there.
Sold for $130 to work as a rag picker in the northern Indian town of Mathura, Rohingya refugee Abdul Rahman lived in a tenement of stitched together polythene bags and pined for his home and the lush farmland he owned in Burma’s Rakhine State.
India has mobilised around 60,000 police and paramilitary troops in a sensitive border state ahead of the publication of a list of citizens it says will be used to detect and deport illegal immigrants, mainly Muslims, from neighbouring Bangladesh.
A decision this week by India to grant visas free of charge to Burmese nationals, likely a boon to Burma’s outbound tour operators, has been met with some concern by an association of travel agencies that specialise in pilgrimages to the sacred Buddhist site Bodh Gaya.
Rights groups should stop lecturing and demonising India over its plan to deport some 40,000 stateless Rohingya and recognise that the country has treated millions of refugees from across the world humanely, a senior official said.
India is in talks with Bangladesh and Burma about its plan to deport around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims it says are living in the country illegally, a government spokesman said on Friday, with state governments told to form task forces for the purpose.
The United Nations on Tuesday appointed an Indian human rights lawyer and two other experts to a fact-finding mission investigating alleged killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State.
The failure of China’s efforts to bring India on board with its “new Silk Road” initiative shows the depths to which relations between the two countries have fallen over territorial disputes and Beijing’s support of Pakistan.
Rising tensions with bordering Pakistan and a spike in separatist violence in neighbouring Kashmir, coupled with nationalist anti-Islamic sentiment globally, are threatening Rohingya Muslim refugees in India as demands grow for their eviction.