THE PRESENCE of a large number of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in areas around Dera Bassi and Lalru in Mohali district has put the security agencies on alert who are now actively tracking their activities. According to highly placed sources in the Punjab Police Intelligence Wing, the presence of these Rohingya families on the outskirts of Chandigarh has been under watch of state as well as central intelligence agencies. “With the fresh exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar and with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sounding an alert that some of these illegal immigrants might be in touch with anti-national elements, we have increased our surveillance,” said a senior official.
Sources maintain that as per an estimate prepared by intelligence agencies, there are around 60-70 Rohingya families staying in villages dotting Dera Bassi and Lalru. “The total number of these individuals is estimated to be around 200 to 250. The majority of them are a floating population who stay here for a while and then move on to places like Jalandhar and Jammu,” a senior official said.
Three villages falling under Dera Bassi and Lalru police stations have been identified in the vicinity of which these refugees are believed to have been staying. The majority of these Rohingyas are believed to be employed in abattoirs and meat processing plants which are located in and around Dera Bassi and they work there as labourers, an intelligence official said. “Most of them are daily wagers and it is believed they are provided employment at these abattoirs through labour contractors and are provided accommodation by the contractors,” the official added.
Kheri Gujran, Samgoli and Jaula Khurd are some of the villages near where the Rohingyas have been traced by security agencies. Investigations reveal that most of them have the identity papers provided by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However, sources in the Punjab Police say that alerts have been sounded by security agencies that some of these refugees may have managed to get Indian identity documents made and, therefore, a detailed investigation into their documentation is being launched.
A visit to the villages where the Rohingyas are believed to be staying revealed that several single-room housing accommodations exist on the outskirts where these immigrants stay put. Most people staying in these rooms identified themselves as ‘Bengalis’ and denied that they were Rohingyas. However, some persons who claimed that they belonged to Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, and requested anonymity, confirmed that there were refugees from Myanmar living in the area who were working in abattoirs.
A senior intelligence official said that the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar into Bangladesh has put the security agencies on alert too and with the Ministry of Home Affairs citing the presence of illegal Rohingya refugees in the country as a security risk, the drive to verify their presence in the region had been intensified.