A Day in the Life of Delhi’s Rohingya Refugee

People

A Day in the Life of Delhi’s Rohingya Refugee

Illustration: Akshita Monga

T

he road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions but eventually leads to eternal damnation. If you look hard enough, you can find that road between South Delhi’s urban villages Mandanpur Khadar and Jasola. The road — partly tarred and fully broken — is covered in dust, and soot is rising from the metro construction work nearby. At the end of the road lies a cluster of kacha houses made of wood and brick, providing temporary but inadequate relief to 75 Rohingya families against an uncertain future.

The Rohingyas are the nowhere people. They don’t belong in Myanmar and they certainly don’t belong in India… perpetually stuck in Limbo, the First Circle of Hell. Historically referred to as Arkanese Indians, the Rohingyas are a stateless people from the Buddhist-dominated Rakhine State in Myanmar. They’ve been persecuted in the country ever since they were denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law, which was followed by state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of the community. Of an estimated 1.2 million Rohingyas in 2015, 9,00,000 now reside in neighbouring Bangladesh, and thousands have been killed. Their villages are being burnt by the Burmese army, which is planting landmines along their road to freedom. But the gravest travesty is that it is all taking place under the watchful eye of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

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