Verification Drive or Raid? Rohingya in Haryana Accuse Cops of Harassment and Brutality

Though the police superintendent claims his officers were 'sensitised' before arriving at the refugee camps on July 26, residents tell a different tale.

The Chandeni-2 Rohingya refugee camp. Photo: Astha Savyasachi

By Astha Savyasachi / The Wire

Nuh (Haryana): Before the break of dawn on July 26, 10 police jeeps and six police buses encircled the 10 Rohingya refugee camps in the Nuh district of Haryana. More than 600 policemen walked into the camps and allegedly barged into each jhuggi, pushing people out of their makeshift homes to carry out a ‘verification drive’.

“‘Darwaza kholo warna darwaza tod dunga (Open the door or we will break it down)’. That’s what the policemen shouted at 4.30 am,” recalled a woman in her thirties, cradling her crying baby.

Sofika, who stays at the Chandeni-1 Rohingya camp, clutched my hand and said, “Madam, hisaab laga lo (if you count), then for every family, there were around 10-15 policemen.”

Sofika and her brother Hasan, both of whom are vocal about atrocities visited on the Rohingya refugees, guided me to the Ward-07 camp in Nangeli, where cases of violence by the police had been reported.

There, according to Nurbahar, a woman in her 60s, the police had hit her, her son, her daughter-in-law and her daughter-in-law’s sister with lathis. This was because 17-year-old Sabakun Nahar, a resident of a camp in the suburbs of Bangalore and a patient of acute tuberculosis, had come to stay with her sister in Nangeli in the hope of getting treatment. Apparently, Rohingya refugees are not allowed to leave even the area of their biometric registration, let alone the state. So the police decided to punish this sick girl by thrashing her with their lathis, and also thrashed the other inhabitants of the jhuggi for providing Sabakun with shelter.

“They dragged me by my neck and kept beating me with their lathis,” said Nurbahar, sobbing with a mix of fury and helplessness.

Islam, a resident of the Nangeli camp, said, “We Rohingya have no home of our own. The earth below our feet is our land and the sky above our heads is our roof. We are illiterate people. We do odd jobs like scrap collection, daily-wage construction work (beldari), and domestic work. And when we try to leave the area to find better-paying work, we are not allowed.”

Generations of alienation

The kind of suspicion the Rohingya refugees face in India is not new to them. Even when Myanmar was a democracy, the Rohingya community could not travel from one place to another without administrative permission.

“We had to fill a document that had questions like, ‘For how long will you stay? When will you be back?’ And we couldn’t stay in the other place even an hour longer than what we had filled in the forms,” said Islam. “We have now left the country, but that dark law hasn’t left us. It feels as if we are still in Myanmar. The Indian government is like a badshah (ruler). It has immense power. It can provide a home to all the homeless and poor. Then what is holding it back? Why doesn’t it help us?”

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