Back home in Rakhine state in Myanmar, Mohammad Rashid (34) was a farmer and would occasionally fish. Four years ago, when the Rohingya Muslim came to Delhi, he turned to rag-picking near his jhuggi in Faridabad. But he has been jobless ever since he moved to a slum cluster near Shaheen Bagh — allegedly “driven away from Faridabad by residents who called him and other families meat eaters”.
Living in groups near Shaheen Bagh now, the families are dependent on their meagre savings for survival. Fearful that their savings might run out soon, many have turned to rag-picking.
“Less than a month ago, 14 families along with mine left the cluster out of fear. They told us not to eat non-veg food, not to celebrate Eid…even the children were being taunted by residents nearby,” alleged 33-year-old Haseena Begum, who came to Delhi from Rakhine state with her four children in 2014.
This shift of residence has led to a loss of livelihood for most of them. For 50-year-old Mohammad Tahir, search for a job has to begin from scratch. “I had a job there in Faridabad, but when we moved here I realised I wasn’t earning enough to commute such a long distance. So I began looking for work here. Everyone asks for an Aadhaar card… where will we get those from?” said Tahir, who, too, has picked up rag-picking now.
Just like Rashid, 26-year-old Aziz was a farmer back home and since he moved to Delhi in 2013, he has been collecting garbage in a cart. “I was earning enough to take care of my family but the last few months in Faridabad were hard…they broke my cart too. I am jobless now. We couldn’t live in fear in Faridabad so we had to shift here”.