In a marked shift of stance, a "deeply concerned" India on Saturday asked Myanmar to handle the situation with "maturity and restraint" in the Rakhine state, the ground zero of mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from the Buddhist-majority country in the wake of violence against them. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India remains "deeply concerned" about the situation in the Rakhine state and the outflow of refugees from that region.
"We would urge that the situation in Rakhine state be handled with restraint and maturity, focusing on the welfare of the civilian population alongside those of security forces. It is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the state restored expeditiously," the statement said.
The statement by New Delhi assumes significance as it recently dissociated itself from a joint statement by the World Parliamentary Forum in Bali that included a reference to human rights violations in Myanmar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his support for the government’s crackdown on alleged terror groups in Rakhine during his visit to Nay Pyi Taw.
The statement also referred to India's strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks on Myanmar security forces in the Rakhine state.
The two countries have since affirmed their shared determination to combat terrorism and not allow its justification under any pretext, it said.
The Indian statement came even as Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali called on Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to discuss the issue. However, the MEA statement made no mention of the meeting.
During prime minister's recent visit to Myanmar this week, he had expressed his concern at the casualties of security forces as well as other innocent lives, the MEA statement said.
He had also urged a solution based on respect for peace, communal harmony, justice, dignity and democratic values, it added.
The statement also noted that during the prime minister's Myanmar visit it was agreed that India would provide assistance under the Rakhine State Development Programme in conjunction with the Myanmarese government.
Earlier this week, an Indian parliamentary delegation, led by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, refused to be a part of the Bali Declaration adopted at the World Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development held at Nusa Dua in Indonesia, in a show of support for the Suu Kyi government just hours after Prime Minister Modi ended his bilateral visit.
"This was in view of the fact that the declaration, which was to be adopted at the conclusion of the Forum, was not in line with the agreed global principles of sustainable development," said a press release issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The Bali Declaration, which was joined by India's neighbours Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, had expressed concern about the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
The declaration had "called on all parties to contribute to the restoration of stability and security, exercise maximum self-restraint from using violent means, respect the human rights of all people in Rakhine State regardless of their faith and ethnicity", as "there can be no sustainable development without peace".
Nearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25 when the fresh wave of violence erupted.
India also faces the problem of Rohingyas fleeing into the states bordering Myanmar. The government has said it would deport all Rohingyas living in India illegally but the Supreme Court has said that it will hear on September 11 a plea seeking a direction to the central government not to deport about 40,000 such refugees back to Myanmar.
The United Nations says that at least 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed in the fresh violence.
According to media reports, the violence began when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state.
Rohingya residents -- a stateless mostly Muslim minority -- allege that the military and Rakhine Buddhists responded with a brutal campaign against them, according to the reports.