Why do these Rohingya Refugees choose to stay in Jammu? Find out
Rohingya have found themselves, literally in a ‘void’ after having being rendered stateless by the Myanmar Government. Rohingya have been reduced to just biological life without a political voice. Following severe persecution on behalf of the Myanmar Govt., Rohingya sought refuge in India with a prevailing concept among them that India is relatively friendly and offers opportunities to a sustainable life.
Migration to Jammu
The first Rohingyas entered India, as asylum-seekers in late 1970s in a trickle and remained unknown for long. Jammu city and its surrounding areas host the largest population of Rohingya in India, followed by Hyderabad and other cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Mewat in small numbers. At the level of policy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) carries out refugee status determination (RSD) and recognises them as refugees. A research report published by Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (MCRG) in 2015 stated that most of these refugees have been issued Refugee Cards by the UNHCR which enables them to settle temporarily as refugees. It quotes Former J&K CM Mufti Sayeed which states, “There are about 1,219 Rohingya families comprising 5,107 members who are staying in Jammu. Out of the total Rohingya refugees living in Jammu province, 4,912 members are having United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards and 186 members are without the cards”.
Muhammad Yunus, a Rohingya who stays in Narwal-Bala, Jammu stated that he came to India eight years back. He said,”In Delhi after getting my refugee card, I was advised by someone to go to Jammu.” He added,”I was told there’s ample need for labour and it’s muslim tolerant region.” Upon asking didn’t they want to settle in Kashmir, he said that they cannot sustain the weather in Kashmir. He said, “My children found it very difficult to adapt to the climate in Kashmir. It’s so cold. Hence, I returned to Jammu.”
A report in TOI (20 Nov 2014) described the settlement in Jammu as the only officially recognised ‘camp’. The article said, ‘While an official camp for Rohingyas, under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is located in Jammu, members of the community are spread across India, including some parts of Kolkata. There are nearly 20-25,000 Rohingyas living in India, most of them in Jammu.’
Aid & Assistance
The J&K Govt has disclosed information regarding Rohingya settlement in the recently concluded Assembly session. The Government enumerated a number of NGOs which have been providing assistance to these refugees. The NGOs included ‘Sakhawat’ run of Mohammad-ul-Umar of Srinagar along with Dr Rashid son of Ghulam Muhammad of Vidhata Nagar, Bhatindi, Jammu, SR Institute of Development, based at Rambagh, Srinagar, Delhi based ‘DAJI’, run by Ravi Hemadri (Director) and ‘Save the Children’ run by Neha Gandotra. (Daily excelsior). These seem to have not only provided humanitarian assistance, but appear to be engaging with Rohingyas from a more sustained and long-term perspective.
A few Madrassas (Islamic seminaries) are also associated with Rohingyas namely, Madrassa Riaz Ul Uloom Tahfeez Ul Quran Muhajireen, Narwal Bala, Madrasa Tul Muhajireen, Jalalabad Sunjwan near Gole Masjid and Dharo Alam in Jugi Railway Station, Bari Brahmana (Daily excelsior).