Pining for home

The Rohingya Muslims, who have fled Myanmar and are now staying in Chennai, hope that once situation normalizes they can return to their homeland

shivani

Shivani Chaturvedi | July 17, 2017 | Chennai


#settlement   #Chennai   #Kolkata   #Myanmar   #Rohingya Muslims   #UNHCR  
A settlement for Rohingya Muslim refugees in Chennai suburb (Photo: Shivani Chaturvedi)
A settlement for Rohingya Muslim refugees in Chennai suburb (Photo: Shivani Chaturvedi)

 Rohingya Muslims Mohammed Yusuf and Noor Bano along with their newborn daughter Noor Fatimah fled to India from Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2012. Through Bangladesh, they arrived in Kolkata from where they boarded a train that brought them to Chennai.

“After fleeing from our home, we reached Bangladesh. With the help of an agent, we came to Kolkata. He asked us to board the train and then he absconded,” says Yusuf who had paid the agent 1 lakh Myanmar kyat, which equals Rs 4,698. This was only a part payment. On reaching Chennai, he had to pay another Rs 20,000 to a person who gave him shelter.
 
These agents give false hope to the refugees, guaranteeing them safe and decent settlement. The organised racket of human trafficking in the case of Rohingyas seems to be strengthening over the years. It is understood that earlier Rohingyas mostly came to India on their own without the help of agents.
 
However, an UNHCR spokesperson says that whenever the Rohingyas crossed borders, they needed help of someone and mostly the people from Bangladesh were the ones who helped them.
 
“UNHCR values the efforts and shares the legitimate interest of states in combating trafficking in persons and specifically draws attention to the humanitarian consequences of this crime. UNHCR calls for a human rights-based approach to human trafficking which goes beyond identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators, and includes measures to address the protection needs of victims or individuals who have been or are at risk of being trafficked,” says the spokesperson.      
 
For Yusuf and his family, the ordeal did not end on reaching Chennai. Not knowing the language, they had to face a lot of difficulties. Yusuf used to communicate with the locals using hand gestures and facial expressions. “Many a times there was lot of confusion and I would be left feeling frustrated and lost,” says Yusuf.
 
With the help of a local, Yusuf managed to get shelter in Manali locality. But, there he had a tough time.
 
“Because of some misunderstanding due to language barrier, there was a minor clash between my neighbour and me. My neighbour filed a police complaint. In the wee hours, the police took my daughter and wife and also two of my relatives in the jeep and left them at Covelong beach in Chennai,” says Yusuf.
 
With the help of UNHCR, Yusuf was able to get his family back.
 
Thereafter, Yusuf, his family and a few other Rohingya Muslim refugees were moved to a community hall in Kelambakkam, a suburb of Chennai, where they stayed for six months. And finally, they were moved to cyclone relief centre situated in the same locality.   
Since then they are living in a dull yellow coloured one-storey building, which is presently home to 19 families. As per UNCHR records, the building houses 94 people of whom 52 are children.
 
The building doesn’t have rooms, so each family has made partitions using sarees and clothes stitched together.
 
Imtiaz Bibi, 20, says that for 19 families it is getting very difficult to adjust in this building as it is cramped.
 
Yet, more Rohingyas are coming to Chennai. Rafiq Alam, 13, came here barely two months back.
 
Most of the men of this refugee community are working as helpers at road side hotels, cleaners in shops or as rag pickers, and are able to earn somewhere between Rs 100 and Rs 400 per day.
 
Over the period of time, these Rohingyas have broken the language barrier. Constant interaction with the natives has helped them learn the language.
 
As Rohingya women don’t come out of the house much, only a few of them have learnt Tamil. However, there are women like Zeenath who have picked up the language as she takes her son to a government school located less than a kilometer from the settlement.  
 
The refugees like Yusuf are hopeful that one day they will be able to go back to their home in Myanmar. His parents are in Maungdaw town where four shops owned by him were burnt down. Yet, Yusuf is waiting for the day when he would go back with his family to his home and live with his parents.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Ashish Shelar of BJP says, “We are very confident of victory”

Ashish Shelar, 47, was the president of the Mumbai city unit of the BJP, before he became the minister of school education, sports and youth welfare in the Maharashta government this year. He has represented the Vandre West constituency in the state assembly and seeking re-election. In a chat with

Nobel for economics goes to `global fight against poverty`

The Nobel Prize in economics for 2019 goes to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty." The prize, known as “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”, was announc

Modi-Xi script a new chapter in bilateral relations

Prime minister Narendra Modi has accepted president Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit China in 2020 for their third informal summit after Wuhan and Mamallapuram, indicating both sides’ realization of the importance of the mechanism which gives the two leaders of the Asian giants an opportunity t

Dharma as the original Idea of India

Dharma: Hinduism and Religions in India By Chaturvedi Badrinath Edited by Tulsi Badrinath Penguin, 194+ xiii pages, Rs 499 How to live: That is the most fundamental question of human existence.

Prakash Ambedkar on why he wants other parties to mention the candidates’ community

Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar and popularly known as Balasaheb Ambedkar, heads the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA). The three-time MP founded this new political party last year with a vision of Ambedkarism, secularism, socialism and progressivism. The VBA, registered this year before the Lo

Maharashtra, Haryana polls: parties spent Rs 280.72 crore on publicity

Political parties that contested the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections in 2014 spent the largest part of their expenses, Rs 280.72 crore (77.35 percent), on publicity, shows an analysis by the National Election Watch (NEW). This was followed by Rs 41.40 crore on travel expenses, Rs 22.59 crore on



Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter