SRINAGAR: “We would prefer to be killed here rather than getting killed by Buddhist mobs and Burmese troops back at our native place in Myanmar,” said Yasmeen, a Rohingya Muslim girl, who lives along with other 16 Rohingya families in outskirts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
She said several of her relatives have been killed in the latest violence by Buddhist mobs and troops in Myanmar.
At least 1000 people mostly Rohingya Muslims have been killed in fresh violence in Myanmar since last month and about 4 lakh people have fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution by Burmese troops.
“My father and brother are in captivity of Burmese troops and I don’t know their fate. I don’t know whether they are alive or dead. My mother, brother, sister and sister-in-law have escaped to Bangladesh,” Yasmeen said.
She says she alongwith her husband and two children had fled Rakhine, Myanmar in 2012 after the violence by Buddhist mobs and troops.
“My sister-in-law and some of our relatives were killed by Buddhists and Myanmarese troops. They had set all Muslim houses in our village on fire and we were fortunate to escape from the place and reach India,” she said.
She said they reached Jammu, the winter capital of J&K, and stayed there for four years and lived as a United Nations (UN) designated refugee.
“We reached Kashmir last year and local people here are very supportive,” said Yasmeen.
At least 17 Rohingya Muslim families comprising about 70 souls are living in three houses of a religious seminary Darul Uloom Bilaliya in Khimber area in outskirts of Srinagar since last year. The Rohingya Muslim migrants are working as labourers.
Another Rohingya Muslim Haroon Rashid, a father of two, said after escaping to Bangladesh in 2012, they travelled to Kolkatta and there from reached Jammu and lived there for four years before moving to Kashmir last year.
He said they left Jammu after facing continuous harassment from some locals, who wanted them to leave the place.
“We were forced to leave our place in Arakan, Myanmar in 2012 due to violence by Buddhist mobs and army. They burnt all houses and my nephew and other relatives were killed,” he said,
Rashid said his uncle, cousin and other relatives have been killed in fresh violence in Myanmar. “I have lost contact with my sister and don’t what has happened to her”.
Rashid said Indian government should not deport them till peace and normalcy returns to Myanmar and Burmese government considers them the rightful citizens of the country.
When told that Supreme Court is hearing a case about deportation of Rohingya Muslims living in India, he said, “How could we return to the place, where people including young and old are being killed and burnt alive. Our land has been snatched by Buddhists and we will be killed if we return back home. The Supreme Court should consider our case sympathetically and allow us to stay in India till peace is restored in Myanmar and we are given our due rights”.
According to Jammu and Kashmir government, 5743 Rohingya Muslims were living in the State and most of them have been staying in districts of Jammu and Samba in Jammu province.
A Rohingya Muslim woman, Anwar Begum said the Buddhists and Myanmarese government bar Muslims from education. “They also don’t allow Muslim boys and girls to get married because they say it would increase the numbers of Muslims, which will in turn change demography of Myanmar”.
She said the Myanmarese government does not accept them the rightful citizens of the country. “We are stateless in our country. There are no jobs for Muslims. We are being killed, maimed and our property snatched by the Buddhists and Burmese troops. We are being treated in such a way as if we have no existence”.
Anwar said many of her relatives were killed in fresh violence in Rakhine this year. “Many of my relatives have reached Bangladesh while there is no news about many others. We are worried about them because we apprehend that they may have been killed by the Burmese troops”.
“I have also been victim of violence. My mother was killed by Burmese troops when I was only nine,” added Anwar.
Asserting that they don’t want to stay permanently in India, she said, “We want the situation in Myanmar to improve so that they can return. The Buddhist mobs and Myanmarese troops should stop killing and torturing Muslims. They should treat us equal citizens and give us our due rights as a citizen as you have in this country. If the killings and violence against Muslims is not stopped, how can we return to our country”.
A Rohingya Muslim youth Abdul Gafoor urged international community including India to play proactive role in pressurizing Myanmar government to stop genocide of Muslims and accept them as citizens of the country.
“The situation back home is not conducive for our return. If we return at this time, we and our family members would be killed. However, if the situation improves, we have no hesitation in returning to our native country,” he said.
Asked what will they do if they are deported by Indian government, Gafoor said, “We will tell the Indian government to kill us here rather than sending us back to the hell again. Here at least after our deaths we will be given proper burial while in Myanmar we may be burnt alive”.
“We will be forced to commit suicides if we are forcibly pushed back to Myanmar at this point of time when the Burmese troops are resorting to genocide of Rohingya Muslims,” he said.
Another Rohingya migrant, Hafeez-ur-Rehman said the Muslims are facing genocide and state terrorism at the hands of Burmese troops.
“If this is not stopped then there is every possibility that our kids and children, who have seen this bloodshed, can turn extremists to avenge the deaths of their family members, relatives and near and dear ones. It is must for international community including India to stop bloodshed of Rohingya Muslims and pressurize Burmese government to end violence against Muslims, grant us citizenship rights and take us back honourably. It would ensure peace and would prevent young boys from adopting violent approach,” he added.
“Till peace is restored fully in Myanmar, we should be allowed by Indian government to stay here on humanitarian grounds,” added Rehman.