India has warned Myanmar that Pakistan-based militants were exploiting radicalisation among the Rohingya community, which posed a security risk to both the countries as well as the region, sources told HT.
India asked Myanmar to find a political solution to defuse the “ticking bomb”, citing information that the radicals among the minority ethnic community were being abetted by outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Delhi conveyed this message to Myanmar’s national security adviser U Thaung Tun, who was on his maiden visit to India last week, sources said.
“We told the NSA that this issue is a major threat. Rohingya radicals are being abetted by Lashkar. This will have consequences for the region. And we have advised them to find a political solution to the issue soon,” an official told HT on condition of anonymity.
Thaung Tun met his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval as well as officials of ministries of external affairs and defence.
New Delhi believes that security measures were necessary but a crackdown alone on the minority community would be “counter-productive”.
Myanmar is coming under increasing international pressure over its treatment of an estimated 1-million strong Rohingya Muslims, who face official and social discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.
Even as Western and Islamic countries and human rights bodies have made the treatment of Rohingyas a central concern in their engagement with Myanmar, India has chosen restraint and discretion, given the sensitivities of both the military and Aung San Suu Kyi on the issue.
Soldiers recently stepped up offensive in the northwestern Rakhine state in a crackdown on Rohingyas, sparking a new round of violence.
India had adequate intelligence to confirm the role of the Lashkar, operating first through its “so-called charitable avatar and then through frontmen” in the Rakhine state, the Indian official said.
It was in 2012-13 that India first grew suspicious of Lashkar, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that left 166 people dead, involvement in Myanmar. New Delhi got inputs from Bangladesh and suspected that Rohingya radicals and Lashkar had a hand in the blasts that rocked Bodh Gaya, Buddhism’s holiest site.
Lahskar founder Hafiz Saeed has often accused India of aiding the Myanmar regime in its persecution of Rohingyas, who are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even when their families have lived in Myanmar for generations.
Soldiers have also been accused of sexual violence against women. The government, however, denies all charges.