For years, Rohingyas have been coming to Jammu and Kashmir, settling in the plains of Jammu, projecting themselves as victims of persecution back home in Myanmar, now they have become a major threat to national security. Now they are part of the nation-wide ring of human trafficking, and most of their women are being married to the elderly people in border belt of Rajouri-Poonch districts in Jammu region that borders Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
This threat has not been analyzed as yet in its full form, but the way the human trafficking ring’s links with terror funding have come to fore , the strands of threat to the national security have become more visible than ever before . These are tangible threats and the security agencies have started feeling the pinch of it.
On Wednesday, the State Investigating Agency (SIA) raided multiple locations in Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi, unearthing the racket in which the players in this dirty game. The raiding parties of the SIA also discovered illicit transaction of money in US dollars and Indian currency worth Rs 85 core in the past two years.
These raids were part of the nation-wide campaign against the human trafficking and its links with terror funding spread across several states, and in particular, Jammu and Kashmir. With the startling revelations about network of girls being trafficked, few layers have been lifted, but the whole issue requires a greater understanding of the issue and its impact on the national security. Several other threads need to be established to unravel the whole situation.
Since 1980s, the people from Burma, no Myanmar, used to come to Jammu and then attempted to make it to the international border, in a bid to cross over to Pakistan. Most of the time, they were apprehended and handed over to police. At times, they were made to board the train to take them to places like West Bengal from where they used to come. But, in almost all cases, they would cut short their return journey at places like Bari Brahmana and Samba, and com back or settle in these areas. These areas are very close to the international border.
Their motivation to stay back in Jammu’s areas was manifold – (a) they felt that they were safe in Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, (b) they were close to border with Pakistan, a Muslim country, (c) Kashmir’s Muslim leadership was quite sympathetic to them and helped them settle in Jammu’s plains.
When Rohingyas started fleeing Myanmar in a big way in 2013 in following hunt for them by the official agencies in the wake of rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, Jammu and Kashmir became their next home. They traveled long distances to reach Jammu. Their journeys were organized by the radical groups as also the groups working for the Muslim cause. They were routed to India via Bangladesh, and once they reached West Bengal, they were transported to Jammu. The whole motivation behind their destination Jammu was their being Muslim and J&K being a Muslim majority state.
Now this problem has assumed dangerous dimensions. The groups involved in human trafficking are aiming at creating a social imbalance, helping Muslim men of all age groups in finding them young brides, some of them in their teens. The elderly men pay money to buy Rohingya Muslim brides, to multiply population in the region. And at the same time, the operators are finding ways to transfer that money into terror-funding. Money has played a crucial role in sustaining terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The SIA stated, that , “during the search operations incriminating material in the shape of bank documents, cash books, credit cards, debit cards, cheque books, invoices, mobile phones, sim cards, passports etc. were seized which will be analyzed for further investigation.
The case pertains to illegal raising, layering and laundering of illegal proceeds of crime by the accused persons which subsequently might have been used in unlawful activities including secessionism and terrorism. The case was registered in police station SIA Kashmir on the basis of an enquiry. During enquiry it has been found that funds to the tune of INR 85 crores have been raised and laundered in a short span of less than 02 years. The transactions have mostly taken place in cash to evade detection of law enforcement agencies. Based on the findings of the enquiry case FIR No 08 of 2023 was registered under relevant sections of law.
Today’s raids were conducted on the strength search warrant issued by the Special Designated NIA Court to collect evidence relevant to the ongoing investigation in the case. State Investigation Agency reiterates its commitment to dismantle the terror ecosystem in J&K by chocking terror financing channels be it hawala, human cash couriers or banking channels.”
This lays bare the reach of the people connected with the human trafficking and terror funding. This is a dimension that requires thorough investigation, and what is needed most is the census of Rohingyas who have settled in Jammu, and other places, as the humanitarian crisis cover is being used as a cover to the criminal and anti-India activities they are indulging in.
(Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)
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