Rohingyas protest at sub-jail in Jammu and Kashmir seeking release
“A week ago, the inmates went on a protest and had refused to take their food. However, their demand was relayed to the higher officials at the Centre but such issues take time,” said a prison official
Lodged in Kathua’s Hiranagar sub-jail for the past over two years, more than 200 Rohingyas went on a protest and refused to take their food, a week ago, demanding they either be deported to, their native land, Myanmar or released.
“A week ago, the inmates went on a protest and had refused to take their food. However, their demand was relayed to the higher officials at the Centre but such issues take time,” said a prison official.
“Few days ago, they staged a protest within the lodgement centre (sub-jail) and demanded that they be deported to Myanmar or released. A week ago, the deputy magistrate of Kathua along with SDM had also visited the centre and had met the inmates,” added the prison official.
He informed that the inmates now prefer dry ration and cook it as per their demand.
“They have been lodged in the prison for the past over two years and their only demand is that they should either be deported to Myanmar or released,” he added.
As many as 271 Rohingyas, including 74 women and 70 children, are detained at the sub-jail since March 2021.
The sub-jail was notified as a “holding centre” on March 5, 2021, for lodging illegal immigrants as defined under Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
On April 6 last year, the J&K and Ladakh high court had directs the home secretary to identify all illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh in Jammu and Kashmir within six weeks.
According to the government, 13,400 Myanmari and Bangladeshi illegal immigrants were living in various areas of J&K.
It may be stated here that the last PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir had been asked by the BJP government at the Centre to prepare a database of Rohingyas in Jammu and Kashmir so that they could be deported to their native lands.
According to an official estimate of the then BJP-PDP government, 5,700 Rohingyas had settled in and around Jammu.
However, in total contravention to the statistics of then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, UNHCR on April 27, 2017, told HT that there were 7,000 Rohingyas in J&K. Rohingya Muslims are considered to be one of the most persecuted communities in the world.
A government document then also stated that 17 FIRs were registered against 38 Rohingyas for various offences, including those related to illegal border crossing and drug trafficking.
On March 3, 2017, the then-home minister Rajnath Singh sought a report from the state over the unabated influx of refugees to Jammu.
On March 25, 2017, the then Jammu district commissioner Simrandeep Singh recovered fake state subject certificates, voter ID cards, Aadhaar cards and ration cards from the temporary shelters of Rohingyas in Jammu.
On March 6, 2021, on the instructions of the Union ministry of home affairs, the Jammu & Kashmir administration started a verification drive of the Rohingyas, and moved 271 of them to the Hiranagar holding centre.