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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?