Ground Report | New Delhi: UP clears Rohingya camp; The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday evicted 16 Rohingya families living near Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar area, saying the land belonged to the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department. He cleared part of the refugee camp as part of his “anti-encroachment” campaign to remove any illegal structures, including the refugee camp.
Officials cut off the water supply and said the “illegal” refugees should be shifted to roadside tents on the other side of the Delhi border. The refugees were asked to move from that land to separate tents next to the Zakat Foundation’s land.
Refugees have pointed to the dangerous location of these tents, noting that they pose a risk of accidents and that there is no food or water supply. Lack of cleanliness in roadside tents has become a sanitation problem, especially for women refugees.
Displaced families allege that U.P. The government also demolished a makeshift mosque in the area. According to Al Jazeera, about 300 refugees appealed to the authorities not to break into their place of worship first.
“He asked the refugees living in tents located in the part of the camp falling in the state of Uttar Pradesh to be shifted to roadside tents. Then this morning, they demolished the washroom and the water supply pipe and the mosque,” 27-year-old Shamsheeda Khatoon told Al Jazeera.
The UP government has argued that it was a case of illegal land acquisition. “Rohingyas are living on land without permission and it was necessary to execute it. He also built a temporary mosque that could lead to conflict later. In a matter of national interest, the land has been cleared,” Jal Shakti Mahendra Singh, minister in UP, told The Indian Express.
Rohingya refugees are among the most persecuted ethnic group who fled political violence and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar in 2017. Around 40,000 refugees, mostly undocumented, live in different parts of the country. The Indian government has not recognized them as refugees, and seeking asylum remains a challenge. Some people have settled in Madanpur Khadar area of Delhi after they were shifted there after a fire broke out in the camps in Kalindi Kunj.
However, Madanpur Khadar is also a precarious piece of land, which has caught fire several times in the past. Last month, a fire accident deprived 250 families of all their property – and, most importantly, their documents – and had no place. Hours after the fire broke out, the Irrigation Department arrived at the scene and ordered the refugees to leave the area. The families were reportedly subjected to several threats from officials of this department.
An official of the UP Irrigation Department told The Caravan last month, “This is government land, it is needed for some projects… any private business will be considered illegal.” (UP clears Rohingya camp)
Various state governments where refugee camps exist have declared them “illegal encroachers” and have made several efforts to remove them from various sites. Demolition of settlements in Madanpur Khadar is the latest in a continuing state of threats, evictions, lack of support from Indian authorities, and uncertainty over housing, employment, and health.
“Earlier they lost their huts in the fire and now their mosque and washroom have been destroyed. Asif Mujtaba, an activist who helps resettle refugees, told Al Jazeera that it was a gross violation of the refugees’ human religious rights.
Activists and civil society groups have noted the dehumanization of Rohingyas as “illegal immigrants” or “trespassers” – alienating them from relief efforts. Persistent threats to their temporary settlements, displacement, and loss of property add to the conflict.