Police say the Rohingyas have carried out 15 murders and 148 incidents of other sorts of offences at the refugee camps in Bangladesh in around eight months since the latest exodus started on Aug 25 last year.
The crimes committed in the camps include rape, abduction, smuggling, and attempted robbery.
As many as 336 Rohingyas are accused in the 163 cases over the incidents.
Police, however, think the number of offences committed by the Rohingyas is not ‘alarming’, considering the huge number of refugees.
Speaking to bdnews24.com on Monday, SM Moniruzzaman, deputy inspector general of police for Chittagong Range, said, “The numbers suggest the trend of committing crimes is not significant among the Rohingyas.”
“They have come from a confined place. But the crimes have not set off alarms just yet.”
“The crimes that took place here are actually caused by dislikes. These are crimes that happen when a huge number of people stay in a secluded place,” he added.
Moniruzzamanalso said they have arrested some Rohingyas in a drive following information that some robbers crossed the border with the refugees.
Law-enforcing agencies in Bangladesh have been airing security concerns over the around 400,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled decades of persecution in Myanmar.
Many of them had soiled Bangladesh’s image by committing crimes abroad after they had travelled with forged Bangladeshi passports, officials allege.
As nearly 700,000 more Rohingyas have joined the refugees in Bangladesh after Myanmar last year launched a military operation, dubbed ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the UN, security experts fear the displaced population can easily be used by criminals.
DIG Moniruzzaman said over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees are staying in Bangladesh now and almost all of them are registered.
Recently, the two countries signed an agreement on repatriating the displaced Myanmar nationals. A Myanmar minister after his visit to the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar said they would start taking back their nationals ‘very soon’.
Bangladesh government is also planning to relocate some of the Rohingyas to Noakhali’s Bhasan Char island.
DIG Moniruzzaman said they have kept the Rohingya camps under close watch to stop the crimes.
“Not only are the police, but executive magistrates, RAB and BGB are also working there. The army is also there for relief work. It’s really difficult to commit any crime in the presence of so many agencies,” he said.
Many are concerned that the Rohingyas may engage in militancy after being forced out of Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Some nongovernment organisations have been banned for their suspicious activities.
Moniruzzaman said, “We have identified some NGOs who have their own agendas. The NGO Bureau and the foreign ministry are monitoring those closely.”
He said the intelligence wings of all the law-enforcing agencies were also working in Cox’s Bazar.
“We are not ready to budge on the question of independence, sovereignty and internal security,” Moniruzzaman said.
Myanmar recently alleged Pakistanis were staying in the Rohingya camps during a meeting of border forces of the two countries.
“We don’t think so,” he said when asked about the Myanmar allegation.
“There is no scope for anyone to do anything like this because we are watching the camps closely.
“I don’t think there is any room to instigate militancy under any cover,” he added.