New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that it will have one final hearing in August on petitions filed by the Rohingyas to give them refugee status in India. This final hearing by the apex court is expected to clear doubts on whether the Rohingyas in India are refugees or illegal immigrants.
The Rohingya community, which came to India in 2008-2009 was granted easy access across the border without any intervention from the then UPA government. The ones staying in Delhi are also living on the land that belongs to Uttar Pradesh government, which was allotted to them during the regime of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“There are around 90 families of Rohingya Muslims living here, out of whom around 250 are children. The Congress government did not object to them living on government land when they first came, without thinking what would happen after that. Whoever goes inside, does not come out. There are four to five leaders who take all decisions and others follow them. All we know is that they get funds from international NGOs,” said Iffat Manzar, the BJP councillor of Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj area, where the camps have been set up.
“During Ramzan this year, a businessman distributed refrigerators to every Rohingya family but they sold their refrigerators because they didn’t want to show the world that they had amenities, as that might reduce the donations given to them from international organisations. The Rohingya girls are not allowed by their leaders to study after the age of 12, the women are not allowed to go outside. They live a life as if it was 50 years ago and are not ready to change. On humanitarian grounds we will adhere to laws but we need to understand that there is a large number of our own population that needs to be looked after”, the councillor further added.
The families living in the camp crossed the border with ease in 2008 and 2009, after which they settled in places around UP and then in 2012 came to Delhi in search of better employment opportunities. Some of them work as daily wage labourers at construction sites, while others drive electric rickshaws in Delhi. “We first came to Jalabad in UP, but we couldn’t find work there, so we shifted to Delhi. Here the employment opportunities are better,” said Mohammad Yusuf, a Rohingya living in the Kalindi Kunj camp. “We live in fear that we will be sent back to Myanmar. A few days ago some officers came and asked us questions about when we came here and what we do. Every time someone comes to ask us questions, it worries us,” he added.
“During the time of the Congress government, the Rohingyas were allowed entry into India and no questions were asked. With the BJP it’s different, they are questioning the people and keeping a check on them. The land that they live on, belongs to UP government but there is a case pending for the same in court,” Irfan Baig of the NGO Zakat Foundation told The Sunday Guardian.
The Rohingyas in Delhi have been provided with refugee cards by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which also provides them with humanitarian assistance. These cards were provided to them after getting a nod from the Congress government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.