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Rohingyas in Hyderabad live in fear

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Syed Mohammed, TNN

HYDERABAD: Though no stranger to harassment, hundreds of Rohingya refugees who have made the city their own, are apprehensive about policemen knocking on their doors once again in the wake of serial blasts in Bodh Gaya.

"The locals told us about the blasts. The police frequently ask us to produce documents and such harassment has become part of our lives," said 28-year old Abdullah, who arrived in the city last year.

The Rohingya exodus began last June, a month before the onset of Ramzan, in the aftermath of ethnic violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Linking the attack on the Mahabodhi temple to Rohingyas was unfair, Abdullah, who goes by one name, said. "We were unaware of the attack as most of us cannot read, write or even speak local languages. We are first concerned about earning money to buy food and get refugee status," he said.

While many Rohingyas settled in Delhi and Pune, a substantial number chose Hyderabad as their new home. They believed the city, on account of its substantial Muslim population, would welcome them with arms wide open. But little did they think about police questionings and needless interrogation each time a Hindu shrine or a Buddhist structure comes under attack.

Hyderabad-based Confederation of Voluntary Organisations (Cova), an NGO at the forefront of Rohingya rehabilitation says 1,200 asylum seekers have registered with them so far and many more are likely to come.

After sustained efforts and coordination with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 80 Rohingyas have been given refugee status, another 200 are now refugee certificate holders and 700 are yet to receive a letter of appointment from UNHCR.

Apathy and death has followed the displaced Rohingyas to the city. It was around a fortnight ago that Iqbal Hussain with his family of six had arrived in the city from Myanmar to escape persecution. But in a quirk of fate, Hussain, the sole breadwinner, slipped from a local train and died instantly. Abdul Mazek, who had crossed the border to West Bengal around 24 days ago, was separated from his teenaged son at the local Kharagpur railway station. He still weeps for him and locals say another victim, Noor Qamar's story in particular is heart-wrenching. An angry Buddhist mob had sawed off Qamar's hands and toes in a forest in Myanmar. "Nobody could hear my screams for mercy and help and now people feed me and help me wash myself," Qamar added.

In search of employment, Dudu Miyan, another refugee, pointed out that around 150 men went to the local 'labourer adda' in Babanagar, but only 50 found work as labourers. The trend is the same everyday. "A man who is busy looking for work everyday has no time to even think about causing trouble," he said, pointing to allegations of Rohingya Muslim role in any incident related to the violence in Myanmar.

To tackle disagreement, the refugees have formed a committee of 15 who are entrusted with arbitration. "We do not wish to take our differences, monetary or otherwise, outside. We are already beset with bigger problems which is why it is important that we help each other," said Abdullah, who is respected by the others.

"To think that these illiterate and hapless people could be behind any terror attack is unbelievable. Whoever has engineered the blasts has damaged the cause of Rohingyas. This act could lead to another wave of violence against Rohingya population not only in Myanmar, but also in India," executive director of Cova Mazhar Hussain told TOI on Monday.

Rohingyas are the most persecuted in the world and around 6,000 have taken refuge in different parts of the country, he added.
Source link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Rohingyas-in-Hyderabad-live-in-fear/articleshow/20980972.cms

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