HYDERABAD: Anxiety is writ large on the faces of over 3,800 Rohingya Muslims living in this city amid reports that the Indian government is planning to deport them. They say they prefer to die here rather than return to Myanmar, where they face persecution.
Raheem, 32, who has been living here with his wife and three children since 2012, said they could think of returning to their country only after they were assured of protection of their life and property.
Having lived here for over five years now, the refugees say they would not like to return to their native country to be slaughtered. They have appealed to the Indian government to drop, on humanitarian grounds, the plans to deport them.
“We thank India for allowing us to stay. If the government wants to deport us, it can do it but it will be better if they kill us here instead of sending us back,” Abdul Raheem, a refugee, told IANS in a voice choked with emotion.
Another refugee, Mohammad Younus, alleged that Buddhist-majority Myanmar always went back on its assurances in the past. “This is the third time that I have become a refugee. They never kept their word,” said the 63-year-old while narrating his tale of woe.
Younus, who is staying here with his wife and daughter, showed a bullet mark on his shoulder. Myanmar Army fired on him and since he was not treated in his country, he had to go to Bangladesh to remove the bullet.
Raheem says he was an agriculturist in Arkan (now Rakhine) state in Myanmar but the authorities took away his land. “We had to escape to save our lives. My two brothers went to Bangladesh but I came here,” he said.
Younus was a businessman in Arkan and his property was also taken away by the government. His suffering did not end with his arrival in India. His was among 125 families which had to leave Jammu and come here about three months ago.
“Some people drove us out of our camps in Jammu. There is no end to our suffering,” he said, crying inconsolably.
Younus runs a small shop. His two sons Zia-ul-Haq and Shams-ul-Haq are ragpickers and live with their families in separate huts. Despite this penury, they are content with their life in India.
Like the majority of refugees, Raheem works as a daily wage labourer for Rs 500. They get the work only for 15 days in a month.
Hyderabad has the second-largest concentration of Rohingyas after Jammu, where the number is estimated at 7,000.
SOURCE: International-Economic Times