Updated: September 19, 2017 9:21:05 am
“We’d rather kill ourselves here than go back to Myanmar or Bangladesh… yaha kabr toh naseeb hogi, wahan toh woh bhi nahi hai (At least there are graveyards here for us, unlike back there),” said a despondent 25-year-old Sohail Khan. On Monday, seated on a broken plastic chair outside a tiny shop in Delhi’s Kanchan Kunj, where close to 50 Rohingya Muslim families have been living since 2012, Khan said he has barely eaten in the last few days. “Khauf hai, khaana kahan se khaayein?” he said.
On Monday, the Centre filed an affidavit in Supreme Court on deportation of Rohingya Muslims from India, stating that their presence posed threat to security.
At Kanchan Kunj, semi-clad children — covered in dust and giant mosquito bites — run around, as their parents ponder about their impending future. “Look at these children, do they look like terrorists? We love India… it’s only when we came here that we realised what peace is, what living is, what laughing is. Why will we join forces against India?” said Jaffar (27), who works as an office boy in a company in Okhla.
In 2012, these families travelled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, in cars and boats, and then from Bangladesh to Kolkata, in cars, and then Delhi — spending Rs 10,000 per person. “We have UNHRC refugee cards… In the last two weeks, though, some people in the colony lost their jobs. Some employers said it’s because they are from Myanmar and will be thrown out. Are we not human?” asked Mohammad Salimullah (34).
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Since the government’s hard stance, many Rohingyas fear going back home or to Bangladesh. “Some of our relatives came to India from Bangladesh and told us how bad camps are there. Things are better here… even though the Indian government hasn’t done much for us, it never troubled us either. We can’t go back to hell… iss se acha main yahi mar jaoun,” said Noor Begum (26), as she recounted the lack of educational and job opportunities in Arkan, Myanmar.
As the sun set, Jaffar and Sohail talked about the “future”. One of them said, “Are we the only refugees here? India has people from Somalia, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere… why are they solely after us? I never thought that five years later, we would still worry about dying and being homeless.”
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