Kill us here instead of sending us back: Rohingya refugees
NEWS CENTER - Anxiety is writ large on the faces of over 3,800 Rohingya Muslims living in Jammu 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.
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.
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 the protection of their life and property.
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 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. He 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.
Like the majority of refugees, Raheem works as a daily wage laborer for Rs 500. They get the work only for 15 days in a month.
There are 16,000 Rohangiyas in India registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) but the total number is estimated to be 40,000.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had told parliament last week that the states were directed to identify and deport illegal immigrants. He later told a news agency that all Rohingyas, including those registered with UNHCR, are illegal immigrants. (Ahmet Salim Çakar- ILKHA)