'Fear' forcing Rohingya to cross-over to Bangladesh

'Fear' forcing Rohingya to cross-over to Bangladesh

Reuters File Photo

A reported warning to leave India and the fear of being send back to the conflict-hit Myanmar has forced many Rohingya refugees living in Jammu and Delhi to head towards the Northeast and then cross the border to “comparatively safer” Bangladesh.

Mohammad Sahjahan, who had fled Myanmar with his family in 2012 following an 'ethnic cleansing' had reached Jammu from a camp in Bangladesh via India-Bangladesh borders in Bengal.

He lived as an asylum seeker along with nearly 1, 500 families in Jammu until a group of local youths asked them to leave India, otherwise they would be pushed to Myanmar, in December.

“We also read in newspapers that some Rohingya have been sent back from Assam to Myanmar. We got scared as we don’t want to go back to Myanmar. They (miscreants) will kill us,” Sahjahan told reporters in Agartala, soon after BSF detained him and 30 other Rohingya on January 22.

They had crossed the India-Bangladesh border from Agartala but were detained by Border Guards Bangladesh. They remained stranded on the border for 48-hours before they entered India and BSF personnel detained them.

A day later, another 30 Rohingya refugees, including women and children were caught while they were on their way to Assam from Tripura.

They, too, were also from Jammu and had rushed to Tripura due to a similar fear.

Nine more were detained in Assam—six in Silchar and three in Lumding earlier this month.

Police questioning has revealed that they all had rushed from Jammu, Delhi and Hyderabad to the Northeast with an intention to cross the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura to avoid being “repatriated” to Myanmar.

Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said that alarmed by the movement of Roghingya refugees, the state government alerted police to take action against them as per the law.

“According to our information, a fundamentalist group is helping the Rohingya refugees to come to Assam,” he said.

At least 12 Rohingyas were repatriated to Myanamar from Assam through the India-Myanmar border in Manipur— seven in October last year and five in this January.

The United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has criticised the action stating that the situation in Myanmar was still not conducive for such repatriation.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled Myanmar following an ethnic clash, the latest being the exodus of 7.20-lakh people, who are still taking shelter in Bangladesh, in August 2017.

According to the Union home ministry, nearly 40,000 Rohingyas are living in India, mostly in Jammu, Hyderabad, Kanpur and Delhi.

The UNHCR said that there are 18,000 registered Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in India at present.

Ravi Nair, of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre recently told DH that many Rohingyas were leaving Jammu due to intimidation by Hindutva fundamentalists.