Rohingya refugees in pieces after blaze turns homes to ash

Rohingya refugees in pieces after blaze turns homes to ash

New Delhi: 25-year-old Ruhina is holding her two children as she looks at her, now rubble, shanty in Okhla's Kalindi Kunj.

On Saturday night, hundreds of people were left homeless after a Rohingya refugee camp was turned into ashes as it caught massive fire. "At around 11.30 pm, the mosque in the middle caught fire. After that our jhuggis also caught fire. I just got a hold of my kids and ran away outside leaving everything behind," Ruhina said.

Other women sitting with her said that they could not even gather their children's clothes and now had to use whatever they got from relief groups.

The area had about 53 shanties, sheltering close to 300 people, who are Rohingya refugees, fleeing persecution in Myanmar. The devastation has left them broken-hearted and without hope. "We had no work during the pandemic and were just doing menial jobs here and there to get by. Now with this devastation, we have to start anew," Abdul, standing in rubble, where once his home stood.

Shabbir, another refugee, who rushed to the spot, told Millennium Post, "There was utter chaos when we reached the area. People somehow managed to save themselves. All the ration that was provided to the families was destroyed. We hope that the Indian government takes this incident into consideration. Such incidents have been taking place, something similar happened in Jammu so we request the government to look into the matter. Post-2016, such incidents have started taking place and we do not know why."

On Sunday, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) visited the camp and demanded that the government reconstruct the refugee camp, adding that they would also call on the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR to provide humanitarian aid to the vulnerable refugees.

Miscreants behind the incident

The residents have told Millennium Post that at about 7 pm on Saturday, a few cars had come to the area. "We had been witnessing such threats for the past few days. Earlier, we were given threats but it had gone rampant these past few days," Sufia said.

Sufia, who was living with her family at the camp since 2012, said that due to the fire, they had to incur a loss of Rs 50,000.

"We had worked hard and started a show business, all of which has now turned to ashes. My heart is aching to see all this. We are refugees, the condition in Burma is not stable. We cannot go back in such a situation," she said.

A similar incident had taken place in 2018 when the jhuggis had caught fire.

The police officials at the scene said that they are investigating the matter as of now. The relief work for the people has already started but the loss of losing a house is more than the people can bear.

Nizam, who managed to save his children from the fire, stood crying looking at the rubble.

"I request the Indian government to give us justice. We are also humans. We have a life. Why are we being treated like this? I want to live in a safe home. India is a safe haven for us. We can't go back right now," he added.

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