The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Panthers Party have put out front page advertisements in local newspapers calling for “immediate eviction” of Rohingya refugees, who were termed “a ticking bomb”.
There are around 5,700 Rohingya Muslims living in Jammu and Samba districts of the state and the right-wing groups have been mobilizing people over the last two years. Early last year, the Panthers Party came out with a provocative billboards asking "Rohingyas, Bangladeshis quit Jammu”, and the business body gave a call to “identify and kill” Rohingyas.
Protests have become louder after the attack on Sunjuwan Army camp where six army personnels and one civilian were killed and many injured. Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly Kavinder Gupta immediately blamed Rohingya Muslims, saying they had a role in the attack as they live in the vicinity. The ruling coalition member Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) too demanded that Rohingyas and Bangladeshi be deported from the State.
The attack had unnerved many people especially those from the Valley and other Muslim dominated area of the State, who have migrated to Jammu finding it safe and peaceful.
Another advertisement said: "Threat of Rohingyas loom large over the heads of peace loving Jammuites. Let us unite to save Jammu", reported The Indian Express.
Panthers Party president Balwant Mankotia also indicated and mobiling the movement further."Getting in touch with like-minded outfits so that they can pressure the government to shift the illegal immigrants outside the state," he was quoted as saying by the paper.
According to Zafar Choudhary, an author and well-known Jammu based journalist, the Rohingya issue cropped up after the separatists and the opposition parties, including National Conference, voiced concern over the grant of nativity certificates to the West Pakistani Refugees.
“Since all WPRs are Hindus and all Rohingyas Muslims, a binary was sought to be drawn. It appealed to some sections, which have galvanized people convincing them that Rohingyas are threat.”
Rohingyas, according to Choudhary, are in Jammu since 1970s. “The International border (IB) between Akhnoor and Hiranagar has been always famous smuggling bulge. This has been used by Bangladeshi to cross over to Pakistan and then further to Europe. Rohingyas also followed. Some managed to cross over, some got stuck up and some stayed,” he said.
The ruling PDP-BJP coalition in the state has also locked horns over the issue. PDP cautioned its ally against "communalising" stay of Rohingya Muslims in Jammu saying the refugees from Myanmar were "protected under international laws" to which government of India is a signatory.
However, that has not done enough to douse the fire amongst civilians. The angst against Rohingya Muslims residing in the state has gained momentum in the recent months. Walls in and around the areas inhibited by these refugees have been spotted with slurs like these lately: "Quit Jammu", "Go Back", "Wake up Jammu", "Don’t save Rohingya" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai".