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    Myanmar crisis triggers Rohingya influx

     A
    family that belongs to the ethnic Rohingya community from Myanmar
    gathered at a makeshift camp in New Delhi on May 14, 2012. Adnan
    Abidi/Reuters

    KOLKATA:
    Middle-aged 
    Azizur Rehman
    had never heard of Jammu before. But his plight forced him to travel
    there for the survival of his offspring. Putting life at risk, Azizur
    headed for an unknown place, more than 3000 kilometres from his
    ancestral home in 
    Arakan.
    He could not reach his destination finally. Midway, Azizur was
    arrested and now behind the bars 
    for
    sneaking into India without valid documents. And he is not alone. In
    a fresh wave, hundreds of 
    Rohingyashave
    started marching towards India for survival.


    Recently,
    government railway police intercepted a group of 10 people from a
    suburban train. Most of them couldn’t understand local language.
    Probe revealed that they all were from 
    the
    Arakan
    (Rakhine)
    state of Myanmar. The Muslim population in Arakan is known as
    Rohingyas and for decades they are the victims of ethno-religious
    conflict with Buddhist population, backed by the 
    Myanmarstate.
    Their government does not accept Rohingyas as citizens and they are
    subject to state repression.

    In
    2012, following a fresh conflict, hundreds of Rohingyas started
    fleeing from Arakan. “We are from Balibazar on the outskirts of
    Sittwe. We used to work as masons there. My son Azizul performed
    well 
    letter
    marks
     in
    school leaving examinations but he was not allowed to go to college.
    So, he also joined me as a mason. But we never thought of leaving our
    ancestral home, even after the state forces beheaded my
    sister Hasina for
    observing Eid. They also chopped off my two fingers,”
    sobbedAzizur at Maniktala police station, adding that
    they were compelled to leave, But finally people once again started
    to flee when the Burmese started kidnapping their girls
    and women and
    trafficked them to Bangkok.

    On
    a cold night nearly a year ago, Azizur and his relatives fled from
    Sittwe, crossed Naf river on a kayak and landed at Chhitagong coast
    of Bangladesh. “They (Bangladeshis) initially tried to push us
    back, but we were not ready. Finally, we got a camp to stay. But with
    no food and proper shelter, it turned out to be a
    nightmare. it was like a hell. No food. No proper shelter.

    We
    were not even allowed to move out to earn,” said Azizur’s
    cousin Nur
    Mahommad
    . After spending 10 months there, they heard of Jammu in
    India, where Muslims also have 
    a
    strong cultural heritage
    .
    “People in Kutupalang camp at Cox’s Bazar told us to go to
    Jammu. We started from there two months ago with three families,
    including three women and two kids,” said Nur.

    Despite
    their language woes, they continued their journey. Even, starvation
    threats could not stop them. “At the stopovers every two to
    three days, we worked as labourers, earned money and
    bought food for survival. In several places, police and security
    forces took away money from us,” recounted Azizul, a teenager.
    In their way they lost their last penny and remaining starved for
    four days they arrived in Kolkata but luck was not with them.

    In
    Kolkata, they were intercepted and arrested. Like Nur and Azizur,
    families of several others were intercepted in Barasat recentlyin few
    days, hinting a fresh wave towards Bengal. “Touts, who were
    arrested with the Rohingyas, claimed that a few hundreds are
    waiting to cross the border. More influx is on the cards, as Thailand
    has decided to deport 900 Rohingyas,” said an
    officer. UNHRC expressed concern over the fresh clash and
    requested neighbouring countries to open their borders for
    the Rohingyas. More than 4000 Rohingyas are now
    residing in different Indian cities. They don’t have
    have
    no full refugee status but India has allowed them to stay.

    “We
    are not aware of their refugee status. We will have to act according
    to court order,” said IG Prison Ranveer Kumar. Now question, who
    will move to court for these hapless people?