Parliament was told last week that states had been directed to identify and deport all “illegal immigrants”, including Rohingyas registered with the UN. An estimated 40,000 Rohingyas live in India. Fatima runs a small grocery shop at a Delhi refugee camp
1. When did you come to India?
My husband and I came to Delhi five years ago. Both my children were born here. So far, it’s been peaceful for me and my family and I hope it continues to be like that. Initially, we did not have any work and could not understand the language, but now I speak Hindi.
2 Do you have an UNHCR identity card?
Yes, without the card, we are nobody here. That is our only document, our only identity. I keep it with me at all times… I don’t want to lose it. You know how long it takes to get documents made again.
3 Have you heard about the Indian government deporting all Rohingyas in India?
Yes, I heard about it a couple of days ago from a local. But I feel we won’t be deported. I have been here for five years and if they haven’t sent us back so far, I don’t think they’ll do that now. At least I hope they don’t… Nobody knows what the future holds. I think an azaad desh (free country) like India should give us refuge.
4 If the government does deport you, where will you go?
I will go anywhere, but not to Burma (Myanmar). They are still persecuting people like us. Our women get raped almost every day. Even police do not help us. I will go where there is work — America, Australia… Some country will give us refuge, I hope.
5 Are the Rohingyas here scared they will be deported?
No, not all of us; some are. Some people say we will have to go back, some say the Indian government cannot send us back. Someone told me that UNHCR have said we cannot be deported. Let’s see what happens.