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

A walk down the rich history of Ayurveda

The Indic Quotient: Reclaiming Heritage through Cultural Enterprise By Kaninika Mishra Bloomsbury India, 230 pages, Rs. 499    Over the past decade, India has seen a significant rise in passion for enterprise as well as pride in her

Is China gearing up for prolonged conflict with India?

International observers will keenly watch the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee meeting next month. The central committee is the highest organ of the CCP with a mandate to execute the decision of the National Congress which is convened once every five years.   Besides economy, r

TRP-driven model bred irresponsibility: Sudhir Chaudhary

News profession is organic in nature, requires responsibility and discipline, and there is no room for mistake. To maintain high standards of accuracy you need discipline and hygiene in the newsroom. Sudhir Chaudhary, editor in chief of Zee News, Zee Business and Wion, has said that a TRP-driven business m

This Mumbai NGO empowers children with skills

When Dharmendra Pandey, a fruit-seller had to leave Mumbai after the imposition of the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, and return to his village in Uttar Pradesh, he was staring at economic uncertainties ahead. Little did he know that his 16-year-old son, Mahavir, had acquired skills that would come

Masks: Awareness: near-total, compliance: half-way

Wearing a face mask is the first line of defence against the novel coronavirus, along with maintaining social distance and frequently washing hands with soap. More than six months after the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly 90 percent of people in India have become aware of the necessity of wearing a face mask,

Covid-19: Daily recoveries cross 1 lakh mark, new cases far fewer

Is India finally gaining an upper hand over the Covid-19 pandemic? After weeks of new cases hitting 90,000-plus every day, the tide seems to be turning, as the number came down to 75,083 on Tuesday, and the recoveries were not only higher than that but crossed the 1 lakh mark too. The countr

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter