Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Thursday said a practical approach was needed to tackle the Rohingya crisis rather than strong condemnation.
Answering a query at a seminar on “Connecting the Bay of Bengal: India, Japan and Regional Cooperation” organised by the Carnegie India think tank here, Jaishankar also said the Rohingya issue “is a matter of concern” and that India is engaged in talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar on the issue.
“Our aim is to see how they can move back (to Myanmar),” he said, adding that it was not going to be an easy task.
His remarks come as the UN put the total number of Rohingya refugees that have arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25 at 604,000.
Jaishankar said that such a situation “is better addressed through practical measures and constructive conversations rather than doing very strong condemnations” and that it “needs much more sober realistic locally sensitive approach”.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Myanmar in early September, India had avoided talking about the military crackdown in Rakhine State and the refugee situation and had condemned the attack on the Myanmar security forces by the Rohingya militants.
Later, on September 9, India modified its position, apparently after the Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali called on Jaishankar to discuss the issue. New Delhi voiced “deep concern” over the Rohingya refugee issue and asked Myanmar to handle the situation in the Rakhine state with “maturity and restraint”, in the statement.
The Rohingyas do not have citizenship in Myanmar and are sparingly given refugee status in Bangladesh.
Myanmar State Counsellor and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has come under criticism for the manner in which the situation was being handled in Rakhine.
On Sunday, during her visit to Bangladesh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India was “deeply concerned” over the violence in Rakhine state.
India has also come to Bangladesh’s aid in handling the crisis by sending relief material for the current influx of Rohingya refugees.
India is also seeking to deport around 40,000 Rohingyas living in the country.