NEW DELHI: Several Rohingya refugees have been residing in the shattered colonies of Shram Vihar and Kanchan Kunj in New Delhi for years. Many families have now received their Aadhaar cards, and their children are enrolled in government schools. Several Rohingya refugees were concerned because of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s demolition actions on Thursday after Bharatiya Janata Party leaders said that several Rohingya refugees were living unlawfully on public land. The Rohingya refugees are concerned about their children’s future and location, and numerous families have attempted to flee India in pursuit of a better life.
Many Rohingyas living in difficult circumstances have become vulnerable to committing certain crimes and getting involved in smuggling and many are trying to leave India. A Rohingya refugee from Kanchan Kunj, who wishes to stay anonymous, told this paper, “I came from Burma in 2012 via Bangladesh. I used to stay at a rented place in Delhi, but my owner threw me out because of my identity, so I have been staying here. During the pandemic, my business was not going well. So, for the first time, I thought of doing illegal smuggling of gold. Unfortunately, the person who was carrying gold from Bangkok to India was caught, and eventually, I was arrested. Now, I have several cases against me and all my valid documents are with the cops.” Currently, he is married and has two kids. He told this correspondent that he learned many tips and tricks about the import-export business while residing in India and working in Lajpat Nagar under a company. Presently, he imports and exports several items, including avocados, fish, and garments. Due to the strict security and lack of proper facilities for his children in India, he has plans to shift abroad soon. However, due to the cases against him, he is unable to do anything. Most of his relatives stay in Canada and the USA. He claimed that his long-term visa and valid refugee cards have helped him to get their Aadhaar cards. Sometimes, some brokers also help them get a valid Aadhaar card.
“Since the Indian government has not been helping us much, we are planning to leave the country. However, we are also concerned for the future of our children. Although we have valid refugee cardholders, we are still concerned about the political tensions in India,” Salim, a Rohingya refugee in Shram Vihar told this paper.
Similarly, another resident in Shram Vihar, on the condition of anonymity, told this paper, “We request the Indian government to let us stay for a while until the situation in our country gets better. Currently, I have no money to apply for a visa, so I am forced to stay here. No one wants to live here in this unhygienic condition. Once I save enough money, I will go to some country.”
According to sources, many refugees stated that their previous settlements (camps) caught fire and so they are now residing in the areas provided by the municipal corporation. The Sunday Guardian visited the colonies of Kanchan Kunj and Shram Vihar and observed that many Rohingya refugees have been living in temporary shacks made up of tarpaulin sheets supported by bamboo sticks. These refugees have been receiving water from the Delhi Jal Board and the SDM of Sarita Vihar, Kapil Chaudhary has been helping them out with the basic facilities like electricity and arrangements for living in Kanchan Kunj. However, the people living in Shram Vihar pay Rs 500 for accommodation and the electricity line has been arranged by their owners, who owe the private land. The Sunday Guardian approached SDM Kapil Chaudhary, but did not receive any response from him on this matter.
An activist working for the Rohingya refugees, on the condition of anonymity, told this paper “Many Rohingya refugees were earlier staying on the lands owned by the Uttar Pradesh government. However, their tents caught fire; then a disaster management team under SDM made temporary shelters for them. Now, the UP government has not been allowing them so they are now residing on private land in Delhi.”