April 1, 2021 1:25:39 am
Around 8 am Wednesday, Sultan Ahmed (62) sat down to have breakfast with his wife at his shanty at Kanchan Kunj. Minutes later, he and his family were taken by police personnel to the nearby Kalindi Kunj police station.
Rohingya Muslim refugees claimed that the detention of the family of four — Ahmed, his wife and two sons — is the latest in a series of incidents where refugees were picked up from their homes and sent to a detention camp at Shastri Nagar. On March 23, a family of six members was similarly picked up from the Kanchan Kunj camp, and another six people were detained from the Shram Vihar camp on March 24.
A senior police officer claimed this is a “regular exercise” and the people were not arrested but rather sent to the FRRO because they “did not have valid documents”. “FRRO will register a case or send them back to their country,” the officer said.
However, Sabber Kyaw Min, Rohingya Human Rights Initiative founder and director, claimed, “All but one of the16 people picked up have valid refugee cards of UNHCR. One person’s card expired and they couldn’t renew it because of UNHCR office being shut due to Covid. Police can claim anything now; what’s the point of detaining these people during the pandemic?”
Basheer Ahmed, Sultan’s eldest son who stays in a separate house with his family, including an 11-month-old child, told The Indian Express: “We don’t know what prompted this. I’m a labourer. I couldn’t go to work today because I’m worried. They picked them up and locked the house. We had to break the lock to take some clothes for them to the station. All things including the breakfast plate was kept as it is. They weren’t given any time.”
Rohingya refugees claim police have been patrolling the area at night too. “Yesterday night the police came to some homes in our camp and started enquiring about how many family members are staying, etc. And today morning we woke up to four people being detained, one of whom is a senior citizen and the other has health issues. Nobody including those being picked up are being told anything,” claimed a single mother of four at Kanchan Kunj camp, who did not wish to be named.
“I worked as a domestic help but have left my job for the last two months because I’m scared to leave my children alone here. We escaped Myanmar to run away from a life of indignity…,” she said.
At Shram Vihar, too, refugees were huddled up at a meeting Wednesday as word spread to stop going to work for some days.
“On March 24, when the six people were taken to the Shaheen Bagh thana, I was also taken along. But they left me around 4.30-5 pm, not the others. We weren’t told why we had been picked up. There are no negative (crime) records against these people as far as I know,” said a refugee who did not wish to be identified.
He claimed more people from the camp were called to the police station Wednesday but were eventually let off. “We don’t understand… when we got the UNHCR card in 2012, we were told that was our identity card and we would face no issue. What more identity can us refugees produce?” said another person at the camp.
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