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Concern as 53 detained Rohingya test positive for COVID-19 in J&K’s Kathua

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At least 219 Rohingyas, including women and children, are currently lodged at the holding center after they were found to be living illegally in Jammu city during a verification operation in March.

Ground Report | Jammu: 53 of inmates of the Jammu and Kashmir detention center for Rohingya people have tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns of a serious outbreak at the center. A health official said on Wednesday that 53 of the 219 Rohingya Muslims detained in an Hiranagar sub-jail of Kathua district of Jammu province had tested positive in Covid-19. A three-day special testing drive of Covid-19 was organized at a holding center in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Speaking to Groundreport.in Kathua’s chief medical officer, Dr Ashok Choudhary said 53 Rohingya were found positive during the screening from Monday and all of them are asymptomatic” added, “We are monitoring their condition.”

At least 219 Rohingyas, including women and children, are currently lodged at the holding center after they were found to be living illegally in Jammu city during a verification operation in March.

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Mushtaque Ahmad, a Rohingya leader in Jammu, Speaking to Groundreport.in said that “We don’t understand what to do, all of us are worried”. He added “all people living here are worried about their beloved one, pregnant women are also lodged in the holding center.

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“We don’t have any accurate information words happening there and what will do if anyone dies” he said. He further added “If someone dies there, then who will be responsible for it?”.

On March 5, UT’s Home Department issued a notification notifying the Hira Nagar sub-jail as a jail. “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Prisons Act, 1894 (Act No. 9 of 1894), the Government hereby designates the structure (s) constructed on Khasra No. 159 village land. Dhanagroli, Tehsil Heera Nagar, District Kathua has been declared a jail with immediate effect.

On the same day, another notification was issued by the Home Department declaring the jail as a holding center under the Foreigners Act.

“SO 591 issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India dated 19 April 1958, exercising the powers conferred by clause (d) of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Foreign Act, 1946. Khasra No. 159 Villages Dhangroli, Tehsil Heera Nagar, District Kathua and the structures built thereon are being declared as “Holding Center Heera Nagar” for stay of illegal immigrants, as defined under Section 2 (b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, “Read Notification.

According to government statistics, 6523 Rohingyas live in the state. These include 6461 in Jammu division and 62 in Kashmir. They are also making temporary homes in Ladakh. However, 13600 foreign nationals including Rohingya and Bangladeshi live here. Their temporary bases are in five districts of Jammu, Samba, Doda, Poonch and Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir. There are 30 locations of Rohingyas in Jammu district itself.

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In April this year advocate Prashant Bhushan appealed to the Supreme Court to release the detained Rohingya and give them the status of refugees in India. Prashant argued that there is no evidence that Rohingya is a threat to the security of the country. Bhushan cited international agreements citing the example of African country Gambia.

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