OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Srinagar, April 8: The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries today backtracked on its threat to kill Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees living in Jammu after the warning triggered an outrage in the state, although it persisted with its call for deporting them.
Chamber president Rakesh Gupta said the “hard words” expressed yesterday were “an outcome of frustration” and the “helplessness being felt by the peace loving and secular people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
The JCCI had yesterday threatened to launch an “identify and kill” movement against the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis if they were not deported within a month, drawing strong condemnation from different sections of society.
Thousands of RohingyaMuslims have fled alleged persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and settled in India and Bangladesh, where their roots lie.
Official figures reveal there are 5,743 Rohingyas living in the state, almost all of them in Jammu. They claim they are not illegal settlers but are legally registered with UN in India.
There were protests by civil society groups in Jammu today to press for the deportation of the Rohingyas.
The JCCI hit out at its detractors, claiming the body “stood for secularism and brotherhood every now and then and need no testimony (certificate) from negative and anti-national forces regarding our stand”.
It also gave a new twist to yesterday’s threat, saying it was “meant to identify these foreign settlers and take effective measures to kill the issue” which otherwise might “result in rioting”, resulting in “loss of precious human lives for which the state and the Union government shall be solely responsible”.
Gupta also said that getting the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis settled only in Jammu was a “matter of concern”.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries criticised its Jammu counterpart, claiming the JCCI threat “could be applicable to West Pakistan refugees as well”.
“(The) KCCI terms the statement… uncalled for, irresponsible and divisive,” the chamber said in a statement.
The West Pakistan refugees – all of them Hindus – are those who had migrated to the state from today’s Pakistan.
While Kashmir-based groups have traditionally opposed citizenship rights for them, Jammu-based groups favour citizenship for these refugees.