53 Rohingyas test Covid+ at Jammu sub-jail, quarantined
At least 53 illegal Rohingya immigrants, out of a total of 222 detained at Hiranagar sub-jail in Kathua district, have tested positive for Covid-19.
All 53 have been quarantined in exclusive barracks within the jail premises. Chief medical officer of Kathua district, Dr Ashok Choudhary, said, “The 53 who have tested positive have been isolated within the holding centre in separate barracks exclusively identified for them. For now they are all fine.” Earlier, all the Rohingyas were kept in common barracks.
“Some among them have Covid symptoms and remaining are asymptomatic, but they are all normal. Kits have been distributed and the doctors are regularly checking on them,” he claimed.
“To check further spread of the contagion, the prison has been sanitised. The remaining inmates will be tested on Wednesday and Thursday,” he said.
On vaccinating the inmates, Dr Choudhary said the health authorities will have to wait for Covid tests of all. A senior prison official, however, said, “58 of them above the age of 45 years have already been vaccinated. We have 222 inmates in the holding centre.”
No instructions on releasing immigrants
“We have not received any instructions from the higher authorities on releasing the remaining Rohingyas. We have enough space and proper arrangements to deal with the situation. Proper Covid protocols are being adhered to in the holding centre and in all the prisons across Jammu and Kashmir,” the official added.
A Rohingya, who lives in Kiryani Talab in Narwal in Jammu, said, “We are also hearing that testing and vaccination drive will be started soon in all our clusters, but so far no one has come to us.”
On March 6, on the instructions of the Union ministry of home affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had started a verification drive of the Rohingya, and moved 197 of them to the Hiranagar holding centre.
There are close to 7,000 Rohingya refugees in Jammu & Kashmir, numbers that have increased since the late 2000s when they first arrived in the region after escaping from Myanmar, where they were facing persecution.
Rohingyas plead administration to provide ration
Najmul Haq, plot in-charge at Rohingyas’ cluster at Kiryani Talab in Narwal, said, “Is there any possibility of releasing the inmates from the holding centre because we have younger ones here in the cluster, whose parents have been lodged in the holding centre.”
“We request the administration to provide us help during the pandemic because there is a lockdown and we are not able to get any work to eke out a living. We appeal to the government to provide us ration for survival,” he added.