By Safwat Zargar / Scroll
In her five-month-long life, Umul Habiba did not know freedom.
Habiba was born in the confines of a “holding centre” in Jammu’s Kathua district – a former prison where over 270 Rohingya Muslims, including her parents, have been detained since March 2021.
On July 19, a day after a clash broke out between the police and the Rohingya detainees of the centre, Habiba fell ill and died in hospital.
From the hospital, Habiba’s body was brought to her uncle’s home in Jammu’s Bathindi area, some 60 km from the holding centre.
For Habiba’s parents, Mohammad Salim and Noomina Begum, and 17-year-old brother Riazuddin, there was no respite from captivity, even at a time of grief. They attended the child’s funeral in shackles, relatives and eyewitnesses told Scroll.
“They were brought in handcuffs. And they remained in handcuffs while they mourned for their daughter,” a middle-aged Rohingya member who was present there, recalled. “While they took part in the funeral prayers, the police didn’t allow them to see the burial.”
Koushal Kumar, the Jammu and Kashmir police official in charge of the holding centre, acknowledged that family members were often handcuffed during mourning rituals and funeral rites. “This is done as a precautionary measure,” he said. “Last time, a Rohingya refugee escaped while he was being taken to a hospital for treatment. Following that incident, some jail officials were also suspended. Since we are responsible for their safety, we cannot take any chances.”
This story was originally published in scroll.in. Read the full story here