NEW DELHI, INDIA May 19, 2024 (New Indian Express): The situation in Myanmar continues to be grim with increased fighting between the military-led Junta army and the ethnic rebel groups across many parts, especially in Rakhine state. The tensions have taken a communal turn with reports of nearly 5,000 houses belonging to Buddhists and Hindus being gutted in Buthidaung, which is just 15.5 miles away from the Bangladesh border. “These 5,000 houses were targeted as they belonged to Buddhists and Hindus. Most people had fled to safer zones so many houses were empty, but those who were left behind were pulled out and their houses looted and burnt in front of their eyes. Conscripts who include young boys from Rohingya camps in Bangladesh are being used for this exercise,’’ according to a source.

These houses were gutted between April 11th and 21st. Buthidaung is now under complete control of the rebel ethnic group Arakan Army. Reports suggest that most of the local Muslims living in Buthidaung and Maungdaw township are not supporting the communal divide and some have sought help from the ethnic rebels to move to safer zones. “In the 2018 census there were 3,000 houses in Buthidaung. This number has increased more than threefold to 10,000 as many people fled their homes from other areas to settle here. Over 50 per cent of residents are Muslims while the remaining are ethnic groups (Buddhists, Hindus),’’ according to a source. Thousands of young people from across Myanmar have fled to safer zones, some have even crossed over to other countries to avoid forced conscription. Meanwhile, recently, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, Hasan Mahmud said that they were hoping that the Rohingya refugees they are sheltering would return to Myanmar. There are said to be one million Rohingyas in Bangladesh.