Discussion on Rakhine (Myanmar) to Bodh Gaya: Understanding Muslim-Buddhist Conflict by India Foundation in Delhi
India Foundation organised a discussion in New Delhi on July 18 on ‘Rakhine (Myanmar) to Bodh Gaya (India): Understanding Muslim-Buddhist Conflict’. Many prominent speakers including former MP from Nagaland and Chairman of Burma Centre in Delhi Dr Tint Swe, retired IFS and former Ambassador to Myanmar Shri Bhaskar Mitra and director of India Foundation and editor of The Pioneer, Dr Chandan Mitra shared their views on the topic. Several other dignitaries including Shri Ram Madhav were also present.
Dr Tint Swe condemned the recent attack on Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya and said it was a soft target for terrorists. He said that it’s unfortunate that India is becoming a victim of collateral damage. He said the word ‘Rohingya’ was not even in existence before a few decades and still in Burma these people are known as “Bengali Muslims”. A very wrong picture of the whole situation was portrayed in front of the world community due to the influence of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). If this situation continues the next battle in Burma could be for a piece of land and this is compelling the Burmese government to think over Race Protection Bill, he said. Throwing light on the genesis of the problem Shri Bhaskar Mitra said it was in the colonial era that huge migration of Muslims started in Myanmar. From 1940s itself Muslim separatist groups are active in Burma and they even approached Jinnah in 1946 to annex a part of Myanmar in the proposed East Pakistan (Bangladesh); it’s due to army that such problems are under check there. Answering a question he said we are also facing illegal migration from many decades but we are just a mute spectator to that.
Dr Chandan Mitra said the recent attack in Bodh Gaya was a backlash of the ongoing conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar. He said the explosions were an apparent retaliation to the ‘atrocities’ against Muslims by Buddhists in that country. He said Myanmar’s conflict was slowly spreading to other countries too, especially India. “The issue of anti-Buddhist and anti-Hindu violence needs to be highlighted and discussed at length,” he said. In response to a question Dr Mitra answered that the concept of Nationality is not very much appreciated in Islamic theology. —Aniruddh Subhedar