Nearly 150 immigrant Rohingya Muslims who escaped persecution in Myanmar and were living in Jammu have been detained and sent to a ‘holding centre’.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday began collecting biometric and other details of Rohingyas residing in Jammu, officials said.
The verification process included a COVID-19 test, at the M.A.M. Stadium in Jammu, amid high security.
However, some local residents of Kiryani Talab, an area inhabited by the Rohingya in Jammu, said some people never came back from the verification.
Certain political parties and social organisations had been urging the Centre to take immediate steps to deport Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis from the country. On February 13, a division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir high court asked the union territory’s administration to file its response within a month, including measures it had taken thus far to identify illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh living in the region.
While Jammu’s Rohingya have been anxious thanks to the government’s many claims that they will be deported, they also have to contend with the uncertain fates of those who have now disappeared.
“The ones who were married or had family returned home, but the ones who were on their own were taken by police,” Imran, a Myanmar national, said. “One of them told me that they have crossed Bari Brahmana” – a town. “We don’t know if they are being taken to Punjab or back to Myanmar. But there are nearly 50-60 people who haven’t come back.”
Rohan, a hawker who sells snacks outside the M.A.M. stadium, claims he saw three buses filled with people leaving the stadium with police and Central Reserve Police Force cars in tow.
The UT’s administration has been silent on the issue. Neither Senior Superintendent (Jammu) Shridhar Patil nor Inspector General Mukesh Singh responded to calls.
However, sources in the administration said on condition of anonymity that nearly 150 Rohingya who had illegally acquired citizenship documents and Aadhar cards had been detained and would be deported.
Union minister Jitendra Singh had said two months ago that Rohingya Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir would be deported since they don’t qualify under the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, and that they wouldn’t be able to secure citizenship by “any means”.
However, most of the Rohingya refugees have cards issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, acknowledging their status as refugees and granting them some protections.
According to official documents from the office of deputy commissioner of Jammu, there are 6,523 Rohingya Muslims in Jammu, as part of 1,517 families.
Pallavi Sareen is a journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir. She is the editor-in-chief of Straight Line and can be contacted at email@example.com.