by Shaheen Abdulla

On July 01, 2022, Nur Hafez and his family crossed Indo-Bangladesh once again to return to Cox’s Bazar, where nearly a million Rohingyas like him are living in the largest and most crowded refugee camp in the world.

The 41-year-old had left the camp in 2017 with his wife and two children, to enter India illegally and settle in the national capital, New Delhi. He retraced the risky illegal journey as he couldn’t bear being imprisoned again in life.

“I don’t want to live in fear,” Hafez said.

Several Rohingya refugees who entered India due to ethnic violence Rakhine state of Myanmar, share the agony of being unwelcomed in India. In 2017, as a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee,  the Minister of State for Home Affairs (MHA) in India issued a directive to state governments asking them to identify all “illegal immigrants” within their respective borders, for deportation.

“Infiltration from Rakhine State of Myanmar into Indian Territory especially in the recent years besides being a burden on the limited resources of the country also aggravates the security challenges posed to the country,” read the directive.

Despite this MHA estimates about 40,000 Rohingyas live in India with approximately 18,000 registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

But even people with refugee cards are being detained in India.

Hafez said “no Rohingya” wants to stay in India due to the state’s apathy but due to crackdown during any movement have kept them stranded in camps.

“We were called weekly for a head count by the local police. They would threaten us about detention. I couldn’t take it anymore. My children were called infiltrators by other students in school,” Hafez said.

Hafez was nine when his family shifted to Bangladesh in 1991. In 2003, he was arrested while visiting his relatives in Myanmar and jailed for five years. Before he was released and sent to Bangladesh in 2008, his family members had relocated to Canada.

“Rohingyas were getting harassed or detained every day. I didn’t want my family to go through it. It was a life with no dignity,” he explained.

While he finds it hard to find a job in Cox’s Bazar camp, he says the security of living with the community is better.

“Several people have returned. Many more are waiting for an opportunity,” Hafez added.

Human Rights Watch has urged India against deporting Rohingya Muslims citing “the serious risk they face of persecution”.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here .