BBC News – The Rohingya children trafficked for sex

Girls in their early teens are being trafficked into prostitution in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, a BBC News investigation has found. Foreigners seeking sex can easily gain access to children who have fled conflict in Myanmar and now face a new threat.

Anwara is 14. Fleeing Myanmar after her family were killed she searched for help on the road to Bangladesh.

“Women came with a van. They asked me, if I’d go with them.”

After accepting their help, she was bundled into a car, with the promise of safe passage to a new life. Instead she was taken to the nearest city, Cox’s Bazar.

“Not long after that they brought two boys to me. They showed me a knife and punched me in my tummy and beat me because I wasn’t co-operating. Then the boys raped me. I wasn’t willing to have sex but they kept going.”

Tales of trafficking in the nearby refugee camps are rife. Women and children are the main victims, lured out of the camps and into labour and sex work.

A BBC team alongside the Foundation Sentinel, a non-profit group established to train and assist law enforcement agencies combating child exploitation, headed to Bangladesh to investigate the networks behind the trade we had heard so much about.

Children and parents told us they were offered jobs abroad and in the capital Dhaka as maids, as hotel staff and kitchen workers.

The chaos of the camps offers big opportunities to bring children into the sex industry. Offering a chance of a better life to desperate families is a cruel tactic deployed by traffickers.

Masuda, 14, who is now being helped by a local charity, described how she was trafficked.

“I knew what was going to happen to me. The woman who offered me a job, everyone knows she makes people have sex. She is a Rohingya here for a long time, we know her. But I didn’t have a choice. There is nothing for me here.

“My family have disappeared. I have no money. I was raped in Myanmar. I used to play in the forest with my brother and sister. Now I don’t remember how to play.”

Some parents wept for fear of never hearing from their children again. Others smiled at the prospect of a life bettered, despite not having heard from their loved ones.

As one mother said, “anywhere is better” than a life outside the camps.

But where are these children being taken to, and by whom?

Undercover, posing as foreigners recently arrived in Bangladesh looking for sex, the BBC investigation team set out to see if we could get access to children.

Only 48 hours in, after asking small hotel and beach cottage owners, places notorious for offering rooms for sex, we found the telephone numbers of local pimps.

With the knowledge of police, we asked the pimps if they had younger girls available for a foreigner, specifically Rohingya girls.

“We have young girls, many, but why do you want Rohingya? They are the dirtiest,” one man said.

This was a recurring theme throughout our investigation. In the hierarchy of prostitution in Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya girls were considered the least desirable and the cheapest available.

We were offered girls by a variety of different pimps operating as part of a network. During the negotiations we stressed that we wanted to spend the night with the girls immediately, as we did not want to create a demand.

Pictures of different girls began to come in and we were told they were between 13 and 17. The number of girls available and the scale of the network was striking. If we did not like any of the girls in the photos, there were plenty more.

Many of the girls live with the pimps’ families. When they are not with a client, they are often cooking or cleaning.

“We don’t keep the girls for long. Mostly Bangladeshi men come for them. They get bored after a while. Younger girls cause more of a fuss, so we get rid of them,” we were told.

With the recording and surveillance done, we presented the evidence to the local police. A small team were assigned to set up a sting operation.

The pimp was immediately identified by the police. “I know him. We know him very well,” said one of the police officers. Perhaps an informant, or a known criminal, it was not clear exactly what he meant.

In preparation of the sting, we called the pimp, and asked for two of the girls we had seen in the photograph to be delivered to a prominent hotel in Cox’s Bazar at 20:00 local time.

The undercover foreigner posing as the client, a member of the Foundation Sentinel, waited outside the hotel with a translator. In the car park undercover police officers waited for the trafficker to arrive.

As 20:00 drew closer, frantic phone calls were made between the pimp and our undercover client. The pimp wanted the client to come away from the hotel, we refused. Instead, the pimp sent a driver to deliver two of the girls from the photograph we had seen.

After the money was exchanged, our undercover client asked: “If tonight is good, can we get more?” The driver nodded in agreement.

After collecting the cash, the police moved in. The driver was arrested, and childcare professionals and trafficking experts helped to arrange care for the girls.

One of the girls refused to go to a shelter, while the other, who said she was 15, went into social care.

The girls appeared torn between poverty and prostitution – they said that without the sex work they would not be able to provide for themselves or their families.

Moving women and children both domestically and internationally takes a degree of organisation. The internet provides the tools to both communicate between different members of organised crime groups and sell sex.

We found examples of Rohingya children taken to Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kathmandu in Nepal and Kolkata in India.

In Kolkata’s booming sex industry, they are given Indian identity cards and absorbed into the system, their identities lost.

At the Cyber Crime Unit in Dhaka, police explained how traffickers trade girls for sex over the internet. Open and closed Facebook groups offer a gateway to a child sex industry out of sight.

Amid a labyrinth of encrypted websites, we were shown a platform used by paedophiles to share information on the dark web. The goal is to share experiences of how to have sex with children around the world.

One prolific user offered a step-by-step guide on how to take advantage of children, specifically Rohingya, in a refugee crisis. He goes on to talk about the best ways to avoid detection, the lowdown on local law enforcement and the best areas to prey upon children.

Another user replies: “As this is happening now, and I feel like a vacation, any thoughts/local knowledge would be appreciated.”

The thread has since been taken down by the authorities but it offered a chilling insight into how refugee crises provide opportunities for paedophiles and traffickers to prey on people at their most vulnerable.

Both online and offline in Bangladesh a network of traffickers, pimps, brokers and transporters continue to supply women and children for sex.

The Rohingya crisis did not create a sex industry in Bangladesh, but it has increased the supply of women and children, forcing the price of prostitution down and keeping demand as strong as ever.

Names in this article have been changed to protect identities


The Tribune – Congress government in Karnataka to recommend religious minority tag to Lingayat

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 19 March 2018. The Karnataka Cabinet on Monday decided to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority status for the numerically strong Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community, a move that has stoked a huge row months before the state goes to polls.

A meeting of the Cabinet considered the recommendations of the Karnataka State Minority Commission (KSMC) amid reports of division among ministers and seers of the community striking a discordant note on the issue of giving separate religion status for Lingayats. The cabinet had twice deferred a decision on the issue.

“After due deliberations and some discussions on concerns of various sections of society, the cabinet has decided to accept the recommendations of the Karnataka State Minority Commission,” Law Minister T B Jayachandra said.

He said the commission, based on the report of an expert committee, has recommended considering grant of recognition as religious minority to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayats (Believers of Basava Tatva (philosophy) under section 2 (d) of the Karnataka State Minorities Act.

“It was also decided to forward the same to the central government for notifying under Section 2(c) of the Central Minority Commission Act,” he told reporters.

Jayachandra said the decision would not affect the rights and interests enjoyed by the existing minorities.

The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/Lingayat faiths has surfaced from the numerically strong and politically influential community, amid resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.

The Lingayat/Veerashaiva community that owes allegiance to the “social reform movement” initiated by Basaveshwara has a substantial population in Karnataka, especially in the northern parts of the state.

One section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has asserted that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same and religious status be given to them.

The other group wants it only for Lingayats as they believe that Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.

Of late, some Lingayats have also stated that they were open to having the Veerashaivas under their umbrella, but that Lingayat nomenclature was non-negotiable.

The KSMC had formed a seven-member committee, headed by retired high court Judge HN Nagamohan Das in December last year. The committee submitted its report on March 2.

The committee in its report has said that Lingayats in Karnataka could be considered as religious minority.

“Veerashaivas, who consider Basavanna as Dharma Guru, vachanas as sacred text, wear Ishta Linga, and believe and follow Vachana tatva, may be considered as part of Lingayats”.

The ‘effective date’ of the notification would be, as may be notified by the state government, after meeting the procedural requirements, Jayachandra said.

It would also be after taking note of the possible impact of such grant of recognition to other minorities or the non-minorities or the public at large, he added.

According to reports, there were heated arguments during the cabinet meeting between ministers belonging to both Lingayat and Veerashaiva camps, with both sides sticking to their stand.

However, Jayachandra dismissed the reports and said it was a “unanimous decision”.

The decision is seen as an attempt by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to wean away a section of the communi ty towards the Congress. BJP chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa hails from the Lingayat community.

Lingayats/Veerashaivas, estimated to form 17 per cent of the state’s population, are considered the BJP’s traditional voter base in Congress-ruled Karnataka.

The Cabinet decision was slammed by the BJP, which accused Siddaramaiah of “playing with fire” for vote bank politics and carrying on with the ‘Divide and Rule’ legacy of Britishers in India.

“Congress carrying ‘Divide and Rule’ legacy of Britishers in India. Siddaramaiah ji is playing with fire for vote bank politics. Why has Congress done this before elections? Why haven’t they done it 4 years back?” BJP general secretary in-charge of Karnataka P Muralidhar Rao said in a tweet.

Opposition BJP leader in the assembly Jagadish Shettar said the Siddaramaiah government was dividing the society for the sake of politics, keeping the election in mind and accused it of “igniting fire”.

Sri Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami of Rambhapuri Peetha of Balehonnur, one of the seers heading the Veerashaiva camps, condemned the Cabinet decision.

He claimed although the decision had already been taken because of a “conspiracy of a few people”, the “Veerashaivas together will fight it” and were now considering their legal options.

Meanwhile, Minor scuffles were reported between Lingayat followers and Veerashaiva followers in Kalaburagi on Monday.

The clash broke out when the Lingayat followers were celebrating the government’s decision and Veerashaiva followers were protesting it. PTI/Agencies

The Times of India – DSGMC reacts strongly to sentencing of Jagtar Singh Tara in Beant assassination case

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 19 March 2018. Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which is controlled by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), reacted strongly to the sentence pronounced on Jagtar Singh Tara in the case of assassination of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.

The committee juxtaposed it with the failure of the justice delivery system to punish culprits of violence against Sikhs in November, 1984.

In a statement issued on Saturday, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, who heads SAD’s Delhi unit, sought to draw a contrast between the swiftness used against Tara and the failure of CBI and judicial delivery system in prosecuting and punishing those who murdered of thousands of Sikhs in Delhi in November 1984.

“CBI and justice delivery systems act very swiftly when cases are against Sikhs but where does this swiftness disappear when Sikhs are victims and cases and complaints are against people like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath, alleged perpetrators of violence against Sikhs.

Crucial witness against Tytler, Abhishek Verma has been expressing willingness before CBI to undergo a lie detector test but the CBI, which has given a clean chit to Tytler thrice, fails to get his lie detector test conducted. The same CBI acts with eagle eye against Tara,” Manjit Singh GK said.

According to him, the CBI, which failed to get a single culprit convicted for murder, robbery and rape, acts with double energy against Sikhs. It will be a sad day when Sikhs will have to cross the constitutional line for justice. Central agencies should stop treating Sikhs like second rate citizens,” he said. – 1984 Sikh Genocide: Eyewitness Harvinder Singh Kohli Testifies Against Sajjan Kumar

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 17 March 2018. The Special Investigation Team, appointed by the Union government of India to re-probe Sikh genocide cases, on March 15 brought the key Sikh genocide perpetrator Sajjan Kumar and an eye witness Harvinder Singh Kohli face to face.

Speaking before the court, Harvinder Singh Kohli testified against Tytler and said that he is an eye witness to seeing Tytler along with mobs who killed Sikhs.

Sources have informed that Sajjan Kumar misbehaved with eye witness Harvinder Singh Kohli and tried to intimidate him but Kohli didn’t come under influence of his threats.

It is pertinent to note here that Harvinder Singh Kohli is an eyewitness of murders of his father Sohan Singh, his brother in law Avtar Singh and neighbour Gurcharan Singh by the Hindu mob led by Sajjan Kumar during Sikh genocide.

The court recorded Kohli’s statement without informing further action.

The Huffington Post – 1984 Anti-Sikh Violence Should Be Declared A Genocide: Jagmeet Singh

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks at an availability following caucus meetings in Ottawa on 25 January 2018

He said the label will help bring peace between Hindus and Sikhs.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 16 March 2018. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Canada should declare that anti-Sikh violence that took place in India more than three decades ago was a genocide.

Singh, who spent much of this week defending himself following the emergence of several videos showing him appearing at various events where others promoted Sikh independence and violence, says there is clear evidence attacks on Sikhs by Hindus which followed the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 were not spontaneous, but rather organized by government.

Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards a few months after Sikh separatists who had barred themselves inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar were killed in a military assault. The Air India bombing in 1985 was carried out in reaction to the temple attack and the post-assassination violence.

India has said fewer than 3,000 people died in the attacks, but Sikh leaders sometimes put the number closer to 10,000. Singh said this week many Canadian Sikhs moved to Canada following the attacks, feeling persecuted and afraid to remain in India.

Singh believes labelling the event a genocide will help bring peace between Hindus and Sikhs.

Motion is ‘misguided’: India

He introduced a motion calling the attacks a genocide in 2016, when he was an NDP member of the Ontario legislature. That motion failed, but a very similar one brought forward by Liberal Harinder Malhi passed last year at Queen’s Park.

That motion was described by Indian media as a “body blow” to India and the Indian government called it “misguided.” Although the motion was passed in a provincial legislature, the Indian government did not distinguish between the levels of government when complaining to Canada about the motion and it was among the tensions that contributed to a troubled state visit to India by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month.

Trudeau’s office did not respond when asked if the government would support a genocide motion.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the 1984 violence was tragic and the issue is close to the hearts of many Canadians of the Sikh faith.

“We must continue to call for truth, justice and accountability for all victims,” he said in a statement. “After 34 years, we must continue to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Dawn – How the British kept the Pakhtuns divided

Ghulam Qadir Khan

Op/Ed 15 March 2018. There were two things the British feared the most as a threat to their rule in India. The first was Russian invasion into Afghanistan waiting for an opportune moment to enter Northern India. The second was a united Pakhtun rebellion within British India with support from Afghanistan.

In spite of all efforts made by the Afghan kings to have cordial relations with British India, they were never trusted as friends. The policies made by the British for the North West were more in relation to the security of India than any other consideration.

Russia by itself might not be such a big threat but coupled with support from Afghanistan and Pakhtuns from the west of the Durand Line, it could create a serious crisis for the British in India.

To ensure that Pakhtuns could never be brought together under one banner, the British divided them first through the Durand Line and then within India into three distinct independent provinces/areas, Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

All three had separate administrative structures and it was ensured there was no connectivity between them. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was further divided into settled areas and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata).

The British stereotyped Pakhtuns as the ‘noble savage’. They needed an illiterate fighter that could be brought under the banner of religion and made to fight for them as their first line of defence. They kept Pakhtuns away from modernity. They made Pakhtuns look stupid and untrustworthy.

They paid the mullahs, pirs and of course the maliks to endorse their policies and show the British as fellow people of the book with whom Muslims could marry, where as the Russians were infidels and the real enemies of Islam and Muslims.

When, ultimately, the Russian army marched on Afghanistan, the free world was ready to take it on. A massive operation, Afghan Jihad, took place without any opposition and the rest is history.

Pakistan followed the policies handed down by the British in letter and spirit. It maintained the image of the ‘noble savage’ but in its enthusiasm overdid the job in Afghan Jihad. After 9/11, the ‘war on terror’ started spreading down country and that is when it started pinching. The ‘noble savage’ was not good enough any more.

Pakhtuns anywhere are seen as a threat and need to be monitored as terror suspects. Both, Punjab and Sindh started profiling Pakhtuns. Students were refused hostels in universities. Pakhtuns staying in hotels or private accommodations had to report to the nearest police station.

Police circulated instructions for keeping an eye on them and any new Pakhtun face was to be reported. Thousands of Pakhtuns were, and are still, under surveillance and, whenever required, eliminated in extrajudicial encounters, branding them as terrorists.

The districts of Punjab adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have issued orders to locals to not rent or sell properties to Pakhtuns. Nationalist parties in Sindh have been advocating restricting temporarily displaced persons from Pakhtun areas to camps.

Initially, Afghan refugees bore the brunt of the policy on racial discrimination but now the displaced persons from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata also face similar treatment. Even their National Identity Cards (CNICs) wouldn’t help them as police block those once their Pakhtun holders are arrested.

Pakhtun civil society and parliamentarians have raised the issues of Fata reforms, Pakhtun profiling and humiliation on every level to no avail.

The extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Pakhtuns came out to protest in huge numbers, giving shivers to their tormentors. They have suffered much and they have been ridiculed and discriminated for far too long.

Islamabad never witnessed such a peaceful protest which suggested albeit briefly that the hundred years of hard work by the British to keep Pakhtuns divided has been undone.

For the first time, Pakhtuns were brought under one banner, one handed to them by someone other than a mullah. It might be a one-time event, no one knows, but most Pakhtuns believe it may start a Pakhtun renaissance.

Dawn – Panjab Assembly unanimously passes landmark bill to regulate Sikh marriages

Arif Malik

14 March 2018. The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed the Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriages Act 2017, a bill that will provide legal status to Sikh marriages in the province.

The bill was tabled by provincial minister Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora in 2017 and was signed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif last week. The passing of the bill has effectively repealed the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 that was passed under British rule.

The bill, a copy of which is available with, will come into force immediately after it has been approved by the governor. Once the bill has been approved, every Sikh marriage that took place before the bill came into force would also gain legal status.

According to the bill, a marriage ceremony, or Anand Karaj, which is defined as “the lawful union of a Sikh male and Sikh female”, will be performed in accordance with the religious practices as permitted in the Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib.

The ceremony would be performed by a male or female called a “Granthi” who would read out from Guru Granth Sahib.

A “marriage deed”, a legal document authorising the matrimonial union, will then be issued by a registrar who will be appointed by the Punjab government.

If a marriage certificate is not issued after the ceremony has taken place, it must be “reported” to the registrar by the Granthi who “solemnised the marriage”.

MPA Arora, who presented the bill in the assembly, claimed that “Pakistan [will be] the only country in the world that would register Sikh marriages” once the bill is passed.

Previously, the records of Sikh marriages were maintained in a Gurdwara.

What is the Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriages Act? [bold]

The bill not only allows the registration of Sikh marriages with the provincial government but also lays down legal guidelines for those eligible for marriage, rules for dissolution and child support or “maintenance” following a dissolution.

According to the bill, any marriage ceremony that takes place between a Sikh male and female would be recognised by the government as long as the bride and groom are:

– Of sound mind and not below the age of 18 years

– they enter into marriage contract with their free and full consent

– are not related to each other in any degree of consanguinity or affinity which, according to the customary law of
Sikhs, renders the marriage between them unlawful.

In case a “party” seeks to dissolve the marriage, he/she must submit a written note to the chairman, head of a union council, union administration or municipal committee or any official that has been authorised by the government to “discharge the functions of the Chairman under the Act”, as well as their partner.

The chairman would then have to constitute an “arbitration council” within 30 days of receiving the note, in order to facilitate reconciliation between the couple.

However, if “reconciliation is not effected within 90 days from the date of the notice”, the chairman will have to declare the marriage as dissolved and issue a Certificate of the Dissolution of Marriage.

Following the dissolution, either party will have the right to file an application in court for an “order for maintenance payment[s] and/or a lump sum payment for themselves or for a dependent child of the marriage”.

Business Standard – UK to raise concern over British Sikh held in Indian jail at senior levels

London – UK, 14 March 2018. The UK government said today that it will raise concerns around the case of a British Sikh being held in a maximum-security jail in Punjab at “senior levels” in India.

The case of Jagtar Singh Johal, a 30-year-old British Sikh from Dunbarton in Scotland who is currently being held in Nabha Central Jail on murder and conspiracy to murder charges, was raised as part of a debate in the UK Parliament’s Westminster Hall today.

British Sikh MPs Preet Kaur Gill and Tan Dhesi along with Johal’s local MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, asked the UK government to raise the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) meeting next month.

Mark Field, Minister of state in charge of Asia and the Pacific in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), said he would “try” to see that happens, adding that he would “continue to raise this case at senior levels with Indian authorities”.

He revealed that the UK government had handled nearly 5,000 detentions involving British nationals abroad in the last year alone with”comprehensive, responsive” consular service and stressed that it is important that the legal systems of other countries are respected.”

India as a partner in the Commonwealth and also as a partner in many other ways has a strong democratic framework which is designed to guarantee human rights.

However, it also faces numerous challenges related to the size of development and when it comes to enforcing fundamental rights enshrined in its Constitution,” Field said in his response to the debate entitled ‘British Nationals Imprisoned Abroad’.

Gill, as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, had organised the debate in order to raise Johal’s case.She laid out the background to the case since Johal was arrested in Punjab in November last year, claiming that he had faced severe torture while in custody.

“Indian authorities have prevented Jagtar having private access to British consular staff,” she said, adding that his case has become a “farcical trial by media”. Dhesi added: “It is incumbent on all us to stand for the human rights of all British citizens.

The UK government’s failure to condemn the series of abuses [against Johal] has left all British citizens travelling abroad vulnerable”. During the debate it emerged that Johal’s MP, Docherty-Hughes, had spoken to the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, and received an update on the case this week.

The Indian government maintains that “due process” is being followed in the case, which was last raised at a ministerial level during the UK visit of Indian minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju in January.

BBC News – Myanmar ‘militarising’ Rohingya villages in Rakhine, says Amnesty

Myanmar – Rakhine State, 12 March 2018. Myanmar is conducting a “military land grab” on land in Rakhine state where Rohingya once lived, a new report from Amnesty International alleges.

Citing satellite images and witnesses, the rights group says villages have been bulldozed to make way for new infrastructure since January.

An Amnesty spokesperson said this “alarming” militarisation was removing evidence of crimes against Rohingya.

The government of Myanmar has yet to respond to the report.

It has previously asked for “clear evidence” to support allegations from the UN that it may have carried out “acts of genocide” against the Rohingya.

Amnesty says that while the picture its new report presents “is only partial, the situation raises urgent concerns about its implications for the future of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya… as well as the tens of thousands who continue to live in the region”.

In August, the Myanmar military launched a military operation in Rakhine state after deadly attacks on police stations.

It said it was a crackdown on insurgents, but reports have emerged of widespread human rights violations, killings, and the burning of villages.

“New bases are being erected to house the very same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director.

“This makes the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees an even more distant prospect.”

The group says new facilities for security forces and roads have been built around places where Rohingya villages once stood, suggesting the area could be used to accommodate more security forces.

By bulldozing entire villages the authorities are also “erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely difficult”, said Ms Hassan.

She said development was “sorely needed” in Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest states, but that it “must benefit everyone in the state regardless of their ethnicity, not entrench the existing system of apartheid against Rohingya people”.

Rakhine has been largely sealed off from UN investigators, rights groups and media organisations, making it impossible to independently verify such reports.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship and equal opportunities by the Myanmar government, which says they are illegal immigrants, and they are largely despised by the majority-Buddhist population.

The Hindu – India to investigate Pakistan’s allegation over harassment of its diplomats in Delhi

Media reports say diplomats in Delhi are facing ‘aggressive surveillance’ daily

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 12 March 2018. India will investigate Pakistan’s allegation of harassment of its diplomats here, sources said on Sunday.

The Indian response came hours after Pakistani media reported that Pakistan’s diplomats stationed here were facing harassment on a daily basis.

“The Pakistan High Commission has brought to the MEA’s [Ministry of External Affairs] notice some incidents of alleged harassment over the past few days. These will no doubt be investigated. India makes all efforts to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for diplomats to work in,” a source in the Ministry said.

Hours before, a Pakistani source told The Hindu that almost all the top diplomats, barring the newly appointed High Commissioner of Pakistan, had faced aggressive surveillance from Indian agencies in the recent weeks.

“Even children going to school and women have been chased by Indian security personnel,” the Pakistani source said.

“On one occasion, one of the drivers was pulled out of his car and threatened with abusive language.”

Pakistani media reports said that Islamabad had warned that it might withdraw its staffers from the High Commission following intense surveillance by Indian agencies.

Diplomatic note

Pakistan has reportedly issued a diplomatic note in protest against the alleged harassment.

The fight between the diplomats serving in both the countries came merely days after Pakistan agreed to the Indian proposal to exchange elderly, women and mentally unstable prisoners.

An Indian source describing the condition that Indian diplomats in Pakistan are facing, said, “Aggressive surveillance, violation of physical space and tailing of officers in close and dangerous proximity is a perennial issue.

Agency personnel keep shooting videos of the officers thrusting phones on their faces. Obscene phone calls and messages are constantly received on phones. In view of such an atmosphere of intimidation, most families have returned to India and children have been withdrawn from schools.”

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan has been made a ‘non-family’ posting.