March 12, 2021 2:11:49 am
AFTER SPENDING THREE days in the Hiranagar sub-jail which has been converted into a holding centre to lodge “illegal Rohingya immigrants”, Ismat Ara and her husband Mohammad Hussain are now back at their tin shed in Kiryani Talab on the outskirts of Jammu city. Their life is far from normal though, and they fear being detained again by the police.
“Nobody gave a reason when the police detained us at M A Stadium on Saturday and later shifted us to the Hiranagar sub-jail. Similarly, upon release on Tuesday, no one told us anything,’’ Ismat Ara told The Indian Express. Jaibullah, 8, and three-year old Asma Jan, the youngest of the four siblings of the couple, sat close to her.
Recalling the time at the holding centre, Ismat Ara said, it was like “being put inside a cage’”. “We pleaded with the officials to let us make a phone call to our children. They were alone at home, and probably hungry. But nobody heard us out,’’ she said.
Her husband, Mohammad Hussain and their two other children Mohammad-ul-Hassan, 11, and Noor Hassan, 7, were not at their tin shed residence. Neighbours said he was avoiding visitors out of fear.
Ismat Ara and Mohammad Hussain were among 168 Rohingya men and women detained on Saturday after being found without valid documents during a police exercise to collect biometric details of refugees from Myanmar.
The Indian Express had, on March 8, reported how four hungry children aged 4–11 years, were waiting for their parents under the tin shed in Kiryani Talab. Their parents, Mohammad Hussain and Ismat Ara, had come to this place some eight years ago. Noor Hassan and Asma Jan were born here.
“When our parents did not return home yesterday (Saturday), we cried and fell asleep without having food. I still don’t know where they are or when they will return,’’ 11-year-old Mohammad-ul-Hassan, the eldest child, had told The Indian Express on Sunday morning.
Though the police have stopped shifting Rohingya refugees to the holding centre at Hiranagar, anger and despair pervades in the settlements here since the police continue collecting details of Rohingya staying at different places in Jammu.
In the adjoining row of tin sheds, two other children, Haleema, 10, and her younger sister Noora Bibi, await the return of their parents Ibrahim and Sajida, also lodged with their eight-year old sibling Saminara at the holding centre in Hiranagar since Saturday. Neighbours said Sajida was in an advanced stage of pregnancy.
“Dar lagta hai (It is scary at night),” Haleema said. She steps out of the home into the neighbourhood at night. “If someone gives food, we eat, else we remain hungry,” she said.
Another woman, Mubarak Begum, who was left alone with her new-born at Kiryani Talab, said, “If you want to lodge us at some place, then shift all of us including the children there.” Her husband was also among those detained and lodged at the Hiranagar holding centre since Saturday. “We had gone to M A Stadium since the police had called us for verification. However, they asked me to return as the baby was not well and took my husband to some place,’’ she added.
“We are not here to stay permanently, but we cannot return to our country until the situation becomes congenial,’’ said a Rohingya refugee, who did not want to be named. “Now we hear that the government wants to deport all of us to Myanmar from where we had fled following atrocities by the military junta,’’ he added.
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