Distressed Rohingya Muslims in Jammu say they are fleeing from their camps out of fear of being detained, a day after nearly 150 Rohingya refugees living in Jammu have been detained and sent to a ‘holding centre’ by the Jammu and Kashmir government.
Social media has been flooded with pictures and videos of Rohingyas leaving their camps and walking on the roads along with their belongings.
In the visuals from Sunday the Rohingyas claim authorities are raiding their shelters and detaining more people.
On Saturday, nearly 150 refugees were detained including children, women and sent to holding centres after a verification drive by authorities where refugees were asked to fill out a form and undergone biometrics.
Holding centres had been set up by a Home Department notification under the Foreigners Act in the Hiranagar sub-jail of Kathua district.
“After sending them to the holding centres, nationality verification will be done as per the prescribed process,” a senior government official said, adding that on the basis of this, the procedure for deportation will be initiated.
Many said to reporters that their family members were being separated.
Khadeeja, a Rohingya Muslim woman who uses one name, told the news agencies that the authorities took away her son on Saturday and she didn’t know where he was being kept.
Ali Johar, co-director of the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative and also a refugee told media that he had received calls from camps in Jammu and Samba district from Rohingyas requesting to rescue their relatives.
Johar said that the refugees carry a card provided to them by the UNHCR (United National Human Right Commission).
“There might be some cases where the validity might have expired but most of us have the cards. The UNHCR card’s validity varied from four years to two months and could be renewed. However, it was currently difficult to get it renewed because of the pandemic. We have been following all the laws and procedures. People are extremely scared. They have no place to go,” Johar said.
According to Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, Jammu houses 6,523 refugees at 39 camps that are located across the region.
Congress leader Salman Nizami questioned the government’s move and said: “In Jammu there are 7,690 Tibetans and 5,743 Rohingya refugees. But 155 Rohingyas were sent to holding centres. Why verification for Rohingyas only just because they are Muslims? This exposes BJP government’s Islamophobic and inhumane nature!.”
The refugees have previously faced hostility in the city.
The Union government by Hindu nationalist BJP regards the Rohingya Muslims as illegal aliens and a security risk.
The Narendra Modi government has ordered that thousands of Rohingyas living in scattered settlements be identified and repatriated.