A day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh said at a public speech in Kerala that Rohingyas have started entering Kerala, a communication from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) marked ‘secret’ claimed that a huge number of Rohingyas are coming to Kerala by train. The communication is dated September 26 – a day before Rajnath Singh made his speech – and was sent from the Principal Chief Security Commissioner of RPF to all his divisional commissioners.
The communication lists out 14 trains on which Rohingyas are supposedly travelling to Kerala and Chennai. The missive does not mention any numbers. “Input indicates that huge number of Rohingyas (an ethnic group of Myanmar's Rakhine province), are travelling from every corner of North East states and ultimately heading towards Kerala, especially in the south bound trains,” the note says, as it lists out several trains, including TVC Express, MAS Express, CAPE Express, TPJ Express, PDY Express and TBM Express.
“All Rohingyas are travelling in groups along with their families,” the note further added. “Officers and staff under your control may be sensitised about their movements. If they are found in trains they may be handed over to police having jurisdiction for further action. Action taken report may be sent to this office at the earliest for the perusal of Principal Chief Security Commissioner (PCSC),” the missive directs.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has confirmed that the communication was based on their intelligence inputs. When TNM contacted RPF Principal Chief Security Commissioner P Sethu Madhavan, who sent the missive, he confirmed sending it based on intelligence from the Home Department but stated that they were not provided with any numbers to expect.
Meanwhile, the Kerala state police is on alert following the missive. The Chief Minister’s Office told TNM, “The state police is on alert following the information, especially at the places where they are supposed to arrive. But the other plans like how the issue will be dealt with is yet to be decided."
The Thiruvananthapuram Division of the Railways, has, however, not received any information regarding the matter, according to sources.
A police source meanwhile says, "The police have been monitoring the situation and action will be taken based on the situation which emerges."
On Thursday, the Home Minister who was in Kerala to inaugurate the BJP State Council meeting at the Ernakulathappan Ground said, “We’ve got information that Rohingyas have started entering Kerala. I’ve asked the Home Secretary to alert the Kerala Government on the situation.”
Rohingyas are an ethnic minority of Myanmar, who began fleeing their country from August 2017, after a crackdown by the Myanmarese military that the UN likened to "ethnic cleansing with signs of genocide through killings, rapes and the razing of houses that year". But the Myanmar government says it was fighting militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and was not targeting civilians. Several thousand Rohingya refugees are in Bangladesh, and many of them have entered India through the eastern borders. Rohingyas have been persecuted in many places where they have migrated to to escape violence, and have been called "the world’s largest stateless population" by the UN's assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs.
The Indian government has called all Rohingyas ‘illegal immigrants’, and has asked all state governments to obtain their biometrics and other details in order to deport them to Myanmar.