Earlier today, a concerning message went viral on social media claiming that The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW or just RAW), which deals with gathering foreign intelligence, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation etc, is recruiting Rohingya Muslims who have infiltrated illegally into India and pose a grave security risk. At the very outset, the claim would appear fantastical since an intelligence wing would presumably not need the media to point out that it could be dangerous to recruit infiltrators.
However, a notification of the government of India that called for recruitment, issued in December 2020, raised alarm bells.
Based on the notification, several people assumed that the government of India was recruiting Rohingya illegal immigrants for government jobs.
Further, there were claims on social media that this recruitment is actually for R&AW, and thus, the concern over the extent of infiltration only increased.
"Vacancy by RAW. Level of Rohingya infiltration… !" writes an officer to me. Has @PIBHomeAffairs recognised Rohingyas as a legitimate group of citizens/refugees? Does the @narendramodi dispensation realise the implications of letting infiltrators be the country's sleuths? pic.twitter.com/SfBfMkonCf— Surajit Dasgupta (@surajitdasgupta) November 27, 2020
The question that was raised by several on social media was whether the Home Ministry had recognised Rohingyas as a legitimate group of citizens and/or refugees.
However, the concern raised seems to be a result of poor interpretation of the circular that was doing the rounds on social media.
What does the circular for recruitment say? is RAW recruiting Rohingya Muslims?
The circular released by the Cabinet Secretariat stated the following:
“Applications are invited from candidates, who are domiciled in the following 6 eastern states of India, for filling up vacancies for the post of Field Assistant (GD) by regional direct recruitment on a language basis, with the government of India organisation. Candidates belonging to these states, who know any of the under-mentioned languages with proficiency to read, write and speak in the concerned language and fulfil the following laid-down eligibility conditions, may apply for the post of Field Assistant (GD)”.
The following languages were listen for the purpose of this recruitment under the head “Language wise distribution of vacancies”.
iii. Rohingya- 02
v. Kokborok – 01
vi. Rajbanshi- 01
It is point number 2 that created the confusion to begin with.
Under the languages listed, one of the languages listed was “Rohingya”. Instead of interpreting it as the language spoken by the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine, several people assumed that the notification actually spoke about Rohingya Muslims themselves, and not their language.
Several websites like Rohingya Post and Rohingyalanguage.com explain the genesis of the language called Rohingya, spoken by the Muslims of Rakhine.
Essentially, the notification means that the government of India was recruiting individuals who could claim to be proficient in the language of Rohingya, and not Rohingya Muslims themselves.
With the rumours about this posting being for individuals to work in R&AW, the significance of hiring people who know how to read, write and speak in Rohingya is not lost. R&AW is often involved in gathering intelligence about security threats, and thus, a recruit who would be able to speak, write and understand the Rohingya language would be invaluable to intelligence gathering.
The infiltration of Rohingya Muslims in India and the Indian government’s stand
India has seen massive infiltration by Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine. The government of India has maintained a tough stand against the infiltration. After the Citizenship Amendment Act was enacted by the Modi government, Home Minister Amit Shah had vociferously responded to Muslim leaders and said that Rohingya Muslims pose a security threat and would not be allowed to settle in India.
It is important to remember here that India is not a party to the 1951 Convention on Refugees and neither the 1967 Protocol. Therefore, no international convention is binding on India. Even if we take into account the international conventions, the Rohingyas are clearly bypassing a safe haven in the form of Bangladesh to reach India for the purpose of gaining material benefits. Thus it makes them economic migrants when they enter India and not persecuted minorities. Furthermore, Rohingyas have been rejected by Thailand along with Malaysia and Indonesia, both of which are Islamic countries. Rohingyas have also massacred Hindus in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Meanwhile, the Indian government has continued to maintain a strong stance against Rohingyas. Not too long ago, it was reported that 1300 Rohingyas had fled to Bangladesh from India fearing deportation to Myanmar. Rohingyas have also been regularly apprehended by local law enforcement. Union Ministers have also said that they pose a security threat to the country.
In October last year, Seven Rohingya Muslims who were lodged in jail since 2012 for illegally entering India were sent to Myanmar border for deportation. The government has also decided to deport 23 more Rohingyas, who have been staying at various detention camps in Assam after they were caught staying illegally in the state. Thus, at a time when the government has made its stance on Rohingyas clear, that illegal immigrants posing a serious threat to the country are being normalised through football is indeed a cause for grave concern.