The Congress today cautioned the BJP and its government against stereotyping "hapless victims of violence" as insurgents or terrorists and said India had historically stood by refugees. Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar were victims of violence and torture and they should be treated with compassion. "There has to be compassion, as Bangladesh has said. India should be careful about the sensitivities and the crises which are unfolding before us," he said. Sharma said some BJP and RSS leaders were making public statements or filing petitions on the deportation of Rohingyas. "They must never stereotype or identify hapless victims of violence (and equate them) with insurgency and terrorism. There has to be a clear distinction," he said. He stressed that terrorists and insurgents could come from any religion, community or ethnic group. "You cannot damn an entire country or religion or people and the BJP Government should be careful about that. That distinction should not be blurred," he said. The Congress leader described the deportation of the Rohingyas as a "humanitarian crisis and a very sensitive issue". He said historically India had taken a very compassionate view of people who were victims of violence or had been displaced because of it and forced to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. "The present Government should not do anything, act in a manner or allow the ministers to say something which actually destroys that image of India as a country which is compassionate, tolerant, accommodating and which has historically also given refuge to victims of violence and torture.
The government should be careful," he said. Rohingyas have faced decades of discrimination and persecution in Myanmar and are denied citizenship there. According to UN estimates, over 1,000 people may have been killed in a crackdown on Rohingyas launched by the Myanmar Army in the Rakhine state since August 25. Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation, the UN estimates. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on September 5 had said Rohingyas were illegal immigrants and stood to be deported.
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