Rohingya camp violence: Stop terrorist activities

In 2017, Bangladesh opened its doors to over 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar based on humanitarian grounds. Prior to their arrival, Bangladesh was already hosting an estimated four million Rohingya. There was hope that the international community would actively engage in the repatriation process.

Regrettably, no significant progress has been made in this regard thus far. Meanwhile, the pilot project for the repatriation of Rohingyas in China's intervention has also stopped due to valid reasons.

The influx of Rohingya refugees has not only had a profound impact on our country's economy and social dynamics but has also become a pressing concern for public security. Alarmingly, the Rohingya camps have become hotbeds for the operations of Myanmar's terrorist organisations, notably the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO).

Furthermore, trade of illegal arms and drugs became rampant in these camps. Regrettably, clashes between Rohingya groups and law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh have also taken place.

A clash between the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in Cox's Bazar's Ukhia Camp 8 resulted in the deaths of five individuals. During a subsequent raid by the Armed Police Battalion (APBN), ARSA terrorists counter-attacked, resulting in the death of Hossain Majhi, a key ARSA leader. Over the past six years, multiple clashes in Rohingya camps have caused the loss of numerous Rohingya lives.

Despite Bangladesh providing shelter to Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds, the presence of terrorist organisations like ARSA and RSO within the country is a significant concern. The question remains as to how these groups managed to establish bases in Bangladesh, despite efforts to support the Rohingya community.

Among the Rohingyas staying in Bangladesh, two distinct factions have emerged. One group is in favour of repatriation while the other is against the idea. In September 2021, Muhibullah, the leader of the pro-repatriation movement, was tragically killed by terrorists belonging to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) at the Ukhiya camp.

ARSA and RSO leaders and members are actively present around the Rohingya camps. It is crucial to investigate how they established their base and brought in weapons. Conducting sporadic raids will not be enough to stop terrorist activities in the area.

According to Cox's Bazar 14 APBN captain, Syed Haroon Ur Rashid, criminal activities were carried out under the orders of ARSA leader Hossain Majhi in seven to eight refugee camps in Cox's Bazar. It is essential to locate Hossain Majhi's accomplices and investigate who is providing shelter to them within the Rohingya camps.

The drug trade in Rohingya camps has a strong connection to terrorist activities. Initially, when the Rohingyas sought refuge in 2017, weapons were not brought along. However, over time, weapons and drugs began to infiltrate the camps. Unfortunately, in the past six to seven years, the Rohingya camps have become hubs for illicit drug and arms trading.

This trade involves not only Rohingya individuals but also citizens of Bangladesh. Despite numerous anti-drug operations, frequent gunfights, and significant casualties in Cox's Bazar, the question arises as to why the spread of drugs has not been effectively halted.

The presence of terrorist activities, armed groups, and the drug trade has transformed Rohingya camps into highly dangerous areas, posing a significant threat to our national security. The situation in these camps cannot be underestimated, considering their geopolitical importance. It is crucial to take necessary measures to prevent any misuse of the Rohingya camps by vested interests. This includes actively addressing terrorist organisation activities and maintaining ongoing operations against drug dealers.