Paris 13/11: Are Disgruntled Refugees to Blame?

India needs to take a cue from the immigration crisis in Europe and the emergence of the ISIS, writes Amar Bhushan.

Published
Opinion
5 min read
Howard Brown, of North Kingstown, R.I., center, displays a placard during a rally,  November 19, 2015,  held to demonstrate against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris. (Photo: AP)

The ISIS bombing on six locations in Paris on November 13 is reminiscent of a conversation that Chanakya, the quintessential practitioner of state craft, had with his protégé Chandragupta Maurya when the Magadh Empire was reeling under its worst famine and his subjects were dying of starvation. A distraught king asked his mentor what he could do to alleviate their relentless suffering.

The advice of Chanakya was far reaching in its impact. ‘You shall force your subjects to go to the neighbouring countries. That will lessen the burden on your exchequer to feed so many mouths and help them survive. Besides, they will be your permanent spies. You can use them whenever you want, to weaken your neighbours and destroy them,’ he said.

People work inside the damaged building of Wednesday’s raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, November 19, 2015. (Photo: AP)
People work inside the damaged building of Wednesday’s raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, November 19, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The famine in today’s context is ISIS’ brutal campaign, civil war in Syria and Iraq and ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, forcing the likes of Abaaoud to avenge the killing of their brethren and attack on their faith.

Snapshot

Problems Posed By Immigration

  • Refugees or immigrants carry the baggage of dual loyalty tilted to their parent countries, a notion that can be easily exploited by terrorist outfits
  • By the end of 2016, it is estimated that Europe will have over one million refugees
  • In India, Bangladeshi immigrants feel alienated, scared and angry especially in Assam and West Bengal
  • Since the Indian govt can’t stop the entry of immigrants, we need to at least begin building a database in order to regulate their activities

The Refugee Problem

The sinister import of Chanakya’s message is being ignored by nations, much to their peril. It also implies that hypocrisy and double speak can only be counter-productive. Recall what French President Francois Hollande said when Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland refused to accept their quota of refugees, as prescribed by the European Union, on the ground that it will spread infectious diseases, terrorism by the Islamic State, create new ghettoes and encourage human trafficking.

US Army veterans display a folded American flag during a rally, November 19, 2015, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I., held to demonstrate against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris. (Photo: AP)
US Army veterans display a folded American flag during a rally, November 19, 2015, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I., held to demonstrate against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris. (Photo: AP)

Hollande chastised them for ignoring human values and even questioned their place in the EU. And look at what he is doing now – bombing and killing women, children and civilians in countries that are not his, to avenge killing of Frenchmen in cold blood. Similarly, the German chancellor wants the reluctant EU partners to show to the world their concern for humanity and Europe’s commitment for moral values. She has also agreed to accept 500,000 refugees every year for the next several years.

Refugees Can Be Misled Easily

Refugees or immigrants (whatever you call them) inherently suffer from dual loyalty, tilted heavily towards their parent countries. They can be easily misled in the name of patriotism and the faith that they once shared with their countrymen. ISIS and other terrorist groups can have no better ammunition to make use of in their violent missions, than these refugees. They can be used as sleepers and facilitators for they feel alienated and subjected to various forms of discrimination in their adopted country. The younger they are, the more intense is their feeling of being exploited. This puts them emotionally on the edge, and often unfit to judge between right and wrong.

Police officers walk outside the house of the mother of the female suicide bomber Hasna Aitboulahcen, in Aulnay-sous-Bois, near Paris,  November 19, 2015. (Photo: AP)
Police officers walk outside the house of the mother of the female suicide bomber Hasna Aitboulahcen, in Aulnay-sous-Bois, near Paris, November 19, 2015. (Photo: AP)

This is why you have young Syrian and Moroccan migrants carrying out terrorist attacks in Paris with blinding rage. President Obama holds that they can be dissuaded from taking recourse to terrorism by their community, but that’s an oversimplification of the reality. Migrants will always be susceptible to pressures from their brethren because of a sense of insecurity arising from their economic, social, religious and political apartheid and will never feel as one of the original inhabitants.

Migrants walk towards the Austrian border town of Spielfeld in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, November 18, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
Migrants walk towards the Austrian border town of Spielfeld in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, November 18, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

The number of such disgruntled elements has been on the rise in Europe since 2007. Though Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia have raised wire fencing, it is impossible for them to stop this influx. By the end of 2016, it is estimated that over one million refugees will enter Europe, most of them aggrieved and in misery. The ISIS need not worry about the recent US, French and Russian bombings. They will have plenty of volunteers to choose from to establish their kind of Islamic State.

Bangladeshi Immigrants in India

India has its fair share of illegal immigrants spread all over the country, particularly in the eastern and north eastern states. Several agencies policing the border treat them as a business opportunity. Our misguided political parties need their votes, and like Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel, want to demonstrate to the world India’s commitment to human values.

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and an immigration officer check the passport of a Bangladeshi citizen at Akhaura check-post of the India-Bangladesh border on the outskirts of Agartala. (File Photo: Reuters)
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and an immigration officer check the passport of a Bangladeshi citizen at Akhaura check-post of the India-Bangladesh border on the outskirts of Agartala. (File Photo: Reuters)

Like in Europe, Bangladeshi immigrants are also loved, discriminated, scorned and used, depending on who deals with them. They too feel alienated, scared and angry. In Assam and West Bengal however, because of their numbers and high level of radicalisation, they are assertive, armed and willing to fight. It may not be too long before terrorist outfits like the ISIS starts seriously looking at them as their forward troops. These illegal immigrants are lucky than their Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan counterparts for they have no fear of rejection of their asylum claims. Most Indian states are ever eager to legitimise their stay.

Before a Paris is re-enacted on Indian soil, we need to listen to Chanakya’s reply to Chandragupta Maurya. ‘What if I am on the other side and refugees enter my kingdom in search of food and shelter?’ asked the king. ‘Accept only that many on whom you can keep an effective watch,’ Chanakya responded.

Since we do not have the luxury of choking the entry of immigrants like the Japanese, beyond a number, we need to at least begin building a database in order to regulate their activities. It is a herculean task but somewhere the beginning has to be made if people are to be kept safe and secure.

(The writer is a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat)

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