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Govt officials: No existence of ARSA in Rohingya camps

  • Published at 11:37 am August 18th, 2020
Rohingya Camp
File photo of a Rohingya camp Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Several Indian media outlets recently published reports that the ISI is backing ARSA in Myanmar and aiding a Bangladeshi terrorist outfit to train militants

Government officials in Bangladesh have dismissed Indian media reports stating that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is active in the Rohingya camps, and training activities are being conducted with the backing of Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

The officials categorically said that there was no existence of ARSA in the camps, so questions could not arise about their activities, including training militants.

A senior official concerned has said that the Indian media are talking like the Myanmar authorities to hinder the repatriation process.

On August 15, several Indian media outlets published reports that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the intelligence agency of Pakistan, was backing ARSA in Myanmar and was aiding a Bangladeshi terrorist outfit to train militants. The reports also said that Bangladeshi and Indian security forces were jointly fighting back against ARSA. 

These reports were based on a report run by German news agency Deutsche Welle (DW) on February 13. The DW report itself was based on an Indian newspaper. 

“There is no existence of ARSA or any other terrorist outfits in the Rohingya camps. And my force is not doing anything jointly with Indians to fight ARSA,” Masud Hossain, the superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar, told Dhaka Tribune.

The office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, the government body responsible to deal with the Rohingya crisis including managing the camps, concurred with the district police chief.

“No, there are no activities of ARSA in the camps. We are very vigilant in this regard,” Additional RRRC Kazi Mohammad Mozammel Hoque told this correspondent.

“We have regular interactions with the law enforcers and intelligence agencies. We have not received any such report,” he said.

“Naturally, criminal activities take place everywhere in the world. But the terrorist activities are different things,” said the senior official.

The Indian media are talking like the Myanmar authorities to hinder the repatriation process, he said.

Two officials familiar with intelligence agencies said that in such a crammed situation in camps, it was not possible to conduct training activities.

“We always monitor the camps. We did not find anything,” said one official.

Another official said: “Residents of the camps are very helpful and inform the law enforcers if any criminal activities take place.”

Three Rohingyas living in the camps said that they had heard about ARSA, but never seen any activities.

This type of reports is nothing but geopolitics against the backdrop of the telephone conversation between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Pakistan counterpart Imran khan, a diplomat said.

When contacted, Muhammad Aurangzeb Haral, counsellor (press) of the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka, said: “The report is tendentious and motivated. It seeks to promote a specific geo-political agenda.”

Despite repeated attempts, the foreign minister and the director general of South Asia wing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comments.

The Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi also refused to comment when contacted.

The Indian High Commission in Dhaka did not respond to the request for a comment.

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