Giridih: Md. Siddiqui used to be private school teacher, while Md. Zahid Hussain was a preacher and Md. Muhibullah, used to sail boats, but then that was way before 2012. They all are Rohingyas and with time, their identity has changed.
They are no longer staying in their country Myanmar on the contrary; Rohingyas now lead a life of penury, as refugees in India. The trio, are like several other Rohingya Muslims, as termed by the UN Secretary General ‘the world’s most prosecuted minority,’ have taken refuge in India since 2015. Originally from Arakan (Rakhine), a Myanmar state with the highest number of Rohingya Muslim population, also happens to be the most affected state with respect to the ongoing government supported ethnic cleansing.
They might have escaped from the jaws of death, by fleeing to India, but living is not that easy for these refugees. “People in India have no idea about what’s going on at Arakan. We are being hunted down one by one,” says Zahid, the eldest of the trio. As he speaks, his hand go searching for something in his pocket and within a few seconds he takes out photographs, which are quite disturbing.
“It’s not just that they are killing us. It’s the way, in which they are killing us. Have a look at the photographs and you can see for yourself, who they chop our limbs apart, how they kill our women and then show disrespect to their corpse. See, how mercilessly our countrymen beat up the Rohingya kids. See how our own country wants to have us eliminated,” he says with a bunch of photographs in his hands.
Zahid and his friends, who are staying in Hyderabad, have come all the way to Giridih in search of financial aid in the form of Fitra and Zakat (money that the financially sound Muslims have to donate during the month of Ramadan).
“In Myanmar, we are not allowed to have phones, we keep it discreetly. We are also not allowed to study or work. And we Rohingyas can be attacked and killed any time. Our blood is not precious you see,” he says with a crestfallen face.
According to them, about six decades ago, Myanmar had around 47 lakhs Rohingya Muslims but now they have been reduced to about 6 lakhs. They have either been killed or forced to take refuge in some other country.
(L to R) Mahibullah, Zahid and Siddiqui with their refugee cards issued by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Displaced from their abode, forced to lead a nomadic life of penury, knocking doors after door seeking for financial aid, especially during Ramadan is what they have been doing for long. The only silver lining for all the hardship that they have to endure is – that they are alive.
“We are safe here in India, but we have our eyes and ears tuned in to what’s happening Arakan. Last October, forces marched into our villages and burnt our all the properties. They want us all huddled up in the camps, so that we can be clubbed as outsiders working in Myanmar. It’s so scary. Some of my brothers and sisters are still in Arakan. They have to hide in caves for days when armed forces enter the village to chase us out of our homes, to kill us in cold blood,” narrated Siddiqui with a blank look on his face.
“But we are Burmese by birth. We have been living there since centuries. Our land is rich in minerals. We can’t be chased out of our country as we belong to the Myanmar soil, sadly enough our blood doesn’t move people across the world to trigger a movement. People choose to ignore us, our ruthless genocide, perhaps because we mean not much to them,” he said with a sense of disappointment.
However, mention the name of Myanmar head of state Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Laureate for peace and you can see the outburst it leads to.
“We had helped her win the elections in 2015, because we believed that she like her father Aung San, would address our issues. But she turned out to be a farce. In fact, before her election, for six months, there were no attack on us, but thereafter it has continued and she is not listening to anyone, not even to the United Nations,” Zahid rued.
“We are also aware of the fact that there are people who want her Nobel Peace Prize to be stripped away from her and we are hoping that it gets done fast. She does not deserve it,” added Muhibullah.
And it is not only Suu Kyi, who has turned indifferent towards them, but also Sheikh Hasina’s Bangladesh government is also adding on to their woes, by closing their doors to refugee from Myanmar.
“We want to get back and help our people. We want that ethnic cleansing should stop in Myanmar so that we can live peacefully,” added Zahid.
According to Rohingya Blogger, a blog which reports atrocities against Rohingyas, on June 1, a three member team from UN, led by Indian human right activist and senior lawyer Indira Jaising visiting Arakan to take note of the situation.
While, Zahid, Siddiqui and Muhibullah are thankful to Government of India for granting them refugee status, in a news report by Times of India states that the Indian government is planning to deport them. There are around 40,000 Rohingyas staying in different cities across India, and the news does spell doom for them.
The recent development comes as a shocker as India has a history of giving shelter to refugees from Afganisthan and Tibet. Around 80,000 Tibetians are staying in several parts of country.