Rohingya refugees without valid papers rounded up and confined to ‘holding centres’ in Jammu and Kashmir

Published : March 09, 2021 17:53 IST

Rohingya refugees at a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Jammu on March 9. Photo: Channi Anand/AP

The exercise of identifying Rohingya immigrants who are “illegally” staying in Jammu and Kashmir is in full swing, with the Union Territory administration collecting biometric and other details of members of the community.

This follows the significant developments of March 6 when the Jammu and Kashmir authorities rounded up as many as 168 Rohingyas, including women and children, from their makeshift camps/shelters in Jammu.

The Rohingyas are a persecuted community in Myanmar who speak the Bangla language and have been at the receiving end of the Junta regime, which was recently in the news for its military coup. Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained by the military regime, did littlle to assuage the Rohingyas’ condition in Myanmar while her party was in power, attracting worldwide condemnation.

A section of the persecuted community entered India illegally through Bangladesh and some of them took shelter in Jammu. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have time and again raised it as an issue in elections, promising to flush the Rohingyas out.

Those rounded up on March 6 have been placed at “holding centres” and it is expected that they would be deported to Myanmar once the necessary formalities are completed.

The holding centres, in the Hiranagar sub-jail in Kathua with a capacity to hold 250 people, were set up by a Home Department notification on March 5 under Section 3(2)e of the Foreigners Act. The authorities were quoted in various newspaper reports as saying that “These immigrants were not holding valid passports required in terms of Section (3) of the Passports Act.”

According to reliable sources, a nationality verification drive will be initiated to ascertain their country of origin and on the basis of the findings, deportations would begin.