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When were you Rohiynga last time?
By Rashid Ali
'None of that people should be spared, not even the baby in the cradle.' With these nerve-jangling words, the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan ordered genocide of the people he conquered or he thought they deserved to perish. The number of people the Mongol army killed in the 13th century is almost equivalent to the current population of Myanmar. As we dive into history, these figures make no sense. Genghis Khan is still out in the open ruminating over more such figures. Only characters have changed. Wirathu, the Buddhist monk, is an Islamic George Bush or a Christian Osama Bin Laden who has not learnt to rescind the order of Genghis Khan.

Wirathu in Myanmar is as patriotic as Sambit Patra in India who is astute enough to reduce all the problems of the world to Muslims. Wirathu pejoratively calls these Muslims Kalars in his local language. Sambit thinks they are circumcised ones as per his linguistic expertise. Their language is not shorn of inhumanity. They both mean the business of hate. They don't see gorged eyes of an infant as crisis of humanity. Scalded flesh gives them romantic goose bumps. Women being raped by military Junta are too normal state of affairs for them. A kid drowned in notorious Naf River is a treat for their eyes. Or maybe they have taken the words of King Lear too seriously- 'I will do such things-I don't know what I'll do exactly, but they will be terrors of the world. You expect me to cry? Well, I won't.'

National TV studios with Wirathu and Sambit Patra shout in unison that Rohingyas are terrorists. Wirathu believes that Rohingyas will outnumber the Buddhist majority in Rakhine state. This belief is echoed by Sambit Patra when his party says that by 2061, India will become an Islamic nation. Whatever is the veracity of these claims, most middle-class people buy this. Forget bigots. Even liberals in academia believe this. To them, Genghis Khan was a Muslim.

Irony doesn't end here. After Amarnath Yatra was attacked, Kashmiris lent their hearts to the victims and tried to help them in all possible ways. But when their hearts spoke for Rohingyas, they were branded as terrorists. Interestingly, humanitarian support for Rohingyas in Jammu is being seen as an anti-national activity. Are our human rights partitioned too? Aren't they inalienable and universal?

When I teach human rights, I look into the eyes of my students to ascertain if at all unbearable lightness of our being has anything to do with this world! I tell them that the world is not ad infinitum. Rohingyas will either be killed or be starved to death. They will not have life after death as even 'Gods' have turned blind eyes to them. These Gods are not universal. They are as national as we are. Indian Gods will not interfere in the affairs of Burmese Gods.

So is it infernal curse that is befalling these Royingyas? Or is it their infirmity to differentiate between national and anti-national God? Or does it have to do with rich and poor God? I wish I could see one middle class God one day! I have heard that the middle class God is capable of empathy.

If I paraphrase Shakespeare, doesn't a Rohingya eat the same food, get hurt with the same weapons, get sick with the same diseases, get healed by the same medicine, and warm up in summer and cool off in winter just like a Buddhist? If yes then we have two choices. We either become Genghis Khan or let's stand on the side of Buddha who would have gone mad at such genocides in the name of religion and nation. In fact, Buddha was/is himself a Rohingya. So when were you Rohingya last time?

(The author Rashid Ali also teaches at Central University Jammu)

News Updated at : Friday, October 6, 2017
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