KOLKATA (Reuters) – Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged India on Friday to lean on Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees who are camped in her country in the tens of thousands.
Hasina met her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during the start of her trip to the eastern city of Kolkata.
“I seek your support to build pressure on Myanmar in taking back their citizens,” Hasina said.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar since August to escape a military crackdown, launched in response to Rohingya insurgent attacks. Refugees have reported murder, rape and arson by Myanmar troops.
Washington has called the army response “ethnic cleansing,” which Myanmar has denied, saying its security forces were conducting a legitimate counter-insurgency operation against what it called “Bengali terrorists”.
“We have given them (Rohingya) food and shelter as we could not drive them out on humanitarian ground,” Hasina said.
About 40,000 Rohingya from Myanmar have settled in India in recent years.
Modi’s government has taken a tough stance on them since coming to power in 2014, calling them a security threat and saying they should be deported.
(Reporting by Subrata Nagchoudhury; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Alison Williams)