Like the pesky flies, fear sits everywhere in this shantytown. Even on the eyes of 14-year-old Anwara, one among 700 Rohingya Muslims living in squalid conditions in this settlement on the outskirts of Jammu. “I felt like dying again when my father told us the news of India deporting Rohingyas. Death is imminent back home. If India is so determined to send us to the gallows, it can kill us here. At least, here we will die peacefully,” Anwara tells Outlook, her voice hoarse in fear. “Back home, they (the Myanmar army) will torture us to death.”
Anwara was only four when her eight-member family fled their home in Myanmar’s Rakhine province in 2010. She was too young to remember anything but she has grown up hearing horrific stories of mass execution and gang rape, babies killed in the arms of their mothers, and entire villages burnt down. She says the horrors of the ethnic cleansing, carried out by Myanmarese Buddhists aided by the army, makes her numb. The Indian government estimates that around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying in the country, more than 6,000 in 30 settlements spread across Jammu alone. However, unofficial counts put their number in Jammu at around 10,000.
But the very country where they found shelter has turned against them, with the Indian government declaring the Rohingyas as a “security threat”. In the first week of October, India deported seven of them, deepening fears among this community that Myanmar calls “refugees from Bangladesh”.
“We are already half-dead, the most cursed set of people who can’t have land which we can call home. Instead of deporting us why doesn’t the Indian government give us poison and end the problem once and for all?” says Mohammad...