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Panic After 25 Rohingya Sent to Holding Centre in Jammu

Anees Zargar |
The 25 members, who had arrived in a village as part of the Tableegh-i-Jamaat group – an apolitical Sunni Muslim missionary movement – earlier in March, were sent to a “holding centre” in the Hiranagar area of Jammu.
Panic After 25 Rohingya Sent to Holding Center in Jammu

Image Courtesy: Outlook India

Srinagar: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have detained 25 persons of the ethnic Rohingya community in the Gool area of Jammu division’s Ramban district, a day after a prominent human rights group urged the Indian government to protect the refugees.

The 25 members, who had arrived in a village as part of the Tableegh-i-Jamaat group – an apolitical Sunni Muslim missionary movement – earlier in March, were sent to a “holding centre” in the Hiranagar area of Jammu, where many Rohingyas are being held currently.

“They have been sent to the holding centre as part of the procedure adopted by the Jammu and Kashmir government,” a police official posted in the area said.

The members, who were part of the group, include Shah Alam, Asar Miya, Hafeez Ahmad, Abdul Mansour, Rafiq Ullah, Mohammad Ayas, Mohammad Riyaz, Noorullah, Iman Hussain, Ali Johar, Ansar, Abdul Gafoor, Jafar Alam, Kamal Hussain, Mohmmad Ismail, Abul Hasan, Ziaul Haq, Mohammad Alam, Noor Hussain, Ameer Hakam, Mohammad Noor, Muhammad Hussain, Mohammad Salim, Mustafa kamal and Abdul Gafoor.

The refugees have been living in the vicinity of the Bhatindi and Narwal areas of Jammu for the past eight years in shabby makeshift tents after escaping from their homeland in Myanmar, fearing persecution from the ruling Military Junta.

Mohammad Ayatullah, whose 78-year-old uncle Abul Hasan has also been detained, told NewsClick that the families of these men are worried about their fate.

“We received one distress call, and then we never heard from them again since their detention. Their phones have been confiscated apparently as we tried to call them, but they are switched off,” Ayatullah said.

He added that during the last conversation, the members told them that the authorities had also seized their UN refugee cards. The families fear that if they approach the police, they may also be arrested and ultimately be deported back to Myanmar, where they face “genocide”.

Referred to as one of the ‘most discriminated communities of the world’, Rohingyas have faced discriminatory campaigns in Jammu for years, with many regional political leaders terming their presence as a “threat to security” of the region, triggering further insecurity amongst the Rohingya community, who primarily work as labourers to earn a livelihood.

“Living here is not easy, but we cannot go back to death. The government should consider our problems on a humanitarian basis and allow us to live,” another family member of Hasan said.

The detention of 25 refugees came when New York-based human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday urged Indian authorities to end the forced return of Rohingyas after the government deported back a woman on March 22.

The rights group pointed out that the Rohingyas, mostly Muslims who have taken refuge in India, face tightened restrictions, arbitrary detention, violent attacks often incited by political leaders, and a heightened risk of forced returns.

About 40,000 Rohingya currently live in India, and at least 20,000 are registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In its statement, the group said that the UNHCR has reported that at least 240 Rohingya in India are currently detained on charges of illegal entry. As many as 39 persons are detained in a shelter in Delhi, while 235 others are detained in a holding centre in Jammu.

“The Indian government gains nothing by forcibly returning a Rohingya woman to Myanmar while she is separated from her children and put at grave risk,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

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