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

“UP situation extremely bad, govt hiding data”

India is battling the second wave of Covid-19 and infections are spreading into the interiors of the country, says Dr Anurag Bhadouria, National Spokesperson, Samajwadi Party. It is precipitated by the elections in five states, the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and also panchayat elections in many states, he says

CoWIN to have new security feature from Saturday

The CoWIN system, the overarching digital platform for citizens seeking appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine, is introducing a new four-digit security code” in the application from Saturday to minimise a peculiar error and subsequent inconvenience to citizens. “It has been notic

Learn from Mumbai model to manage oxygen supply: supreme court

Mumbai, once the epicentre of the pandemic in India, has emerged as a model for all others in mitigating the crisis. The supreme court on Wednesday said the central government should adopt and take lessons from the Mumbai model to manage liquid medical oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients in Delhi.

‘What do they know of history who only history know?’

A Functioning Anarchy? Essays For Ramachandra Guha Edited by Srinath Raghavan and Nandini Sundar Penguin Random House India / 392 pages / Rs 650 In a long and versatile career spanning thirty-five years, Ramachandra Guha has prod

BMC commissioner urges Mumbaikars to come forward for testing

To take preventive steps early and save lives, BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has urged citizens to come forward and get themselves tested.   Mumbai has seen a dip in Covid-19 cases in the last few days after an unprecedented increase in cases s

India records over 3 lakh recoveries, fresh cases down

India reported 3,68,147 new cases on Monday, a number lower than the 4 lakh-plus recorded in the weekend. Also, more than 29.16 crore Covid tests were conducted across the country. As many as 29,16,47,037 have been conducted as on date. India’s cumulative recoveries now stand

Masterminds Masterclass with Rajniesh Duggall on Acting & Modeling



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter