170 Rohingyas detained in Jammu, scores flee homes

Around 170 Rohingyas have been detained in Jammu for living without valid documents. Fearing detention, scores have left their homes while some also protested, demanding immediate release of their relatives or else detaining every member of the community. “We have escaped a genocide in our country and now we are fearing for our lives here as well. There has been a sustained hate campaign against us in Jammu from 2017,” said Ali Johar of Rohingya Human Rights Initiative.

J&K administration on Friday notified the setting up of ‘holding centers’ under Section 3(2) e of Foreigners Act. The officials have mostly remained tight-lipped but maintain that those without relevant documents or fake documents are being held up in these centers. Some members of the community, officials said, have made fake Aadhaar card and passports. The Rohingyas are bengali-speaking muslim minority from Myanmar. They fled following persecution by the government forces in their country. Around 6,500 Rohingyas have been living in J&K since 2012. The community representatives claim that all of them have UNHCR cards, which doesn’t make them illegal immigrants.

“UNHCR cards of some of our members were expired and couldn’t be renewed due to Internet restrictions in J&K and lockdown in wake of Covid-19 pandemic,” said a Rohingya refugee. Scores of Rohingya’s protested outside Bhatandi police station in Jammu claiming that their relatives have been selectively detained. “They have detained my 80-year-old grandmother…They should release her or detain us all and take us wherever they want,” said one of the protestors. The Rohingyas settlements in Jammu wore deserted look on Sunday, as they feared that police might detain them during the night.

The government on Saturday gathered scores of Rohingyas at a stadium in Jammu, where they underwent a Covid-19 test and biometric verification as well. Later, over 170 of them, including children and women, were detained in a holding enter in Hira Nagar sub-jail in Jammu. “Our men and women were killed, raped and burnt in our homeland. Government of India has been kind enough to give us space but this is not the way to treat a persecuted community,” said another protestor.

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