India to help repatriate Rohingya

Promising to help repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday that India would provide relief supplies for the refugees in Bangladesh and build homes for them in Rakhine state of Myanmar.

“The Indian Home Minister conveyed that India is committed to helping in the safe, speedy and sustainable return of these persons to their homes … India will also continue to provide relief material and supplies to help the Government of Bangladesh deal with the needs of those in the relief camps,” a statement by the Indian High Commission said.

Officials present at the meeting told
The Hindu
that Mr. Singh said India was prepared to “step up” assistance to approximately 7,50,000 Rohingya refugees who had fled the violence in Myanmar, and provide food, medical or relief supplies needed.

The Home Minister’s discussions with Ms. Hasina came ahead of a visit by Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali to Myanmar to oversee preparations for the repatriation of the first batch of Rohingya refugees who have been verified as residents of Rakhine, according to a deal brokered between Bangladesh and Myanmar by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. India has offered to supply and construct prefabricated homes in Rakhine for the returning refugees.

Terror talks

Mr. Singh is in Dhaka to co-chair the sixth round of India-Bangladesh talks on Home affairs on Sunday. He inaugurated the “Bangladesh-India Friendship Building” at the Bangladesh Police Academy in Rajshahi. His talks with Ms. Hasina focussed on tackling the “menace” of terrorism in the region, said the official statement.

Briefing the media, Hasina’s Additional Press Secretary M. Nazrul Islam said Mr. Singh had mentioned “some countries in the region” that were not cooperating in fighting terror groups based in South Asia, a reference to Pakistan. Sources said that Mr. Singh suggested that if those countries were unable to curb terror groups in their territories, then they should “ask for help”.

“We are always in favour of holding dialogues to mitigate problems. We have resolved many issues — like border disputes — through this process,” Ms. Hasina reportedly told Mr. Singh. “Bangladesh does not allow its territory to be used by any terrorist individual, group and entity — against any state or people.”

In a tweet after the meeting, Mr. Singh said his deliberations with Ms. Hasina had been “extremely fruitful”.

Visa centre

Later, Mr. Singh and his Bangladesh counterpart, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, inaugurated the largest Indian visa centre in the world at about 18,500 sq.ft in Jamuna Future Park in Dhaka. It replaces four visa centres in the capital and will serve visa seekers with 48 counters. The Indian High commission issued l.4 million visas last year.

The Home Minister’s visit to Dhaka comes one month after Ms. Hasina travelled to Santiniketan and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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