“How can we go back to Myanmar, we will be killed there by the army there,” say the refugees.
NEW DELHI – Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, on Tuesday, evicted Rohingya families on the pretext that they had encroached upon the land. The refugees have been living in a ramshackle settlement near the railway state for years.
The police claimed that the eviction was a peaceful exercise as there was no need to use force. SSP Mohammad Arif Reshu said they could be able to convince the refugees that it was not safe for them to live close to railway tracks and thereby they agreed to evacuate the land.
However, debunking the police version, the refugees said they were, in fact, evicted from the place against their will, and now have nowhere to go for shelter.
“Under these hot weather conditions, we don’t know where to go. We can’t go back to Myanmar for fear of being killed. We don’t get accommodation on rent here as we don’t possess Aadhaar cards, but we do have UN refugee cards. We have young children with us. We don’t know what would happen to us,” a Rohingya couple was quoted in Hindustan Times.
Another Rohingya, Shamsul Alam, “I don’t know where to go now… They (the officials) said that the land belongs to the Railways and we have to vacate it. They don’t consider UN card. We appeal to the government to rehabilitate us somewhere. How can we go back to Myanmar? We will be killed there by the army.”
The eviction exercise was conducted a week after Jammu and Kashmir High Court, while hearing a writ petition challenging the stay of Rohingya in the state, asked the authorities as to what steps have been taken to identify the illegal immigrants and send them to their places of origin.
In mid-March, a Rohingya woman, Hasin Begum, was reportedly deported to Myanmar, a country she had fled along with thousands others years ago after the Myanmar army and Bhudhist extremists resorted to genocidal violence against the community.
Begum was deported last year in March along with close to 200 Rohingya and placed in a holding centre in a jail. The authorities say they have completed the formalities to deport other detainees too.
The action evoked concern in the community, many of whom say they will migrate to Bangladesh.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemned the deportation, urging the Indian government to reconsider its decision.