Over 300 Left Homeless As New Delhi’s Rohingya Camps Burn

In 2018, a similar incident took place after which they were shifted to a camp nearby that was destroyed on June 12. 

Just less than three months after the fire within the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh that left thousands homeless, India’s capital, New Delhi saw over 50 shanties being gutted in a blaze at the southeast district named Kalindi Kunj on June 12.

Photo: Meer Faisal

A senior officer of the fire department stated that they received a call around 11:55 pm on Saturday, June 12, and five fire tenders were rushed to an area near the  Kalindi Kunj Metro station, Madanpur Khadar. The fire was brought under control at around 3:00 am. 

“Prima facie the fire started from a house due to a short circuit or sparking in the main wire. Later, cylinders exploded and the fire spread rapidly.” said a DFS official.

Rohingya refugees have been living on a plot of land in Madanpur Khadar near Kalindi Kunj since 2012 when the land for setting up the camp was given by a non-governmental organization.

It is saddening to know that this wasn’t the first time a fire destroyed the homes of Rohingya refugees. 2018 saw a similar incident where the camp was burnt down and they were shifted to a camp nearby which was destroyed on Saturday. 

The Rohingya are a group of stateless Indo-Aryan tribes, who mainly follow the Islamic religion and originated from Myanmar. In the late 2010s, displacement crises led to over a million Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. 

As high as 40,000 Rohingya refugees, who are believed to be undocumented, live in camps across Indian cities, including Jammu, Hyderabad, and Nuh. 

While the United Nations refugee agency aimed to provide some of them with refugee cards, which intends to help them to access some basic services and protection from police action, it has played no role in saving them political goons, racism, and the constant strive for survival. 

As of today, there are over 300 homeless people and basic livelihood, since Sunday, women, and children are being helped by nearby volunteers with basic hygienic necessities while the men are queued up for free ration and clothes. 

A Rohingya refugee’s house was burnt to the ground yesterday night. All he did in the morning was  search for whatever was left of the Holy Quran, every little piece he could find under the rubble, he collected in a bag.

At the refugee camp in Kalindi Kunj, Sunday. (Express Photo by Abhinav Saha)

A repair shop worker, Ravi, said he has no job and no place to rest: “I have three children and no money to feed them. They have been walking barefoot since last night, trying to find bottles and ration in the ashes. My wife suffered minor injuries and is unwell. I want to buy medicines for her but don’t have money.”

One of the most prominent understandings of this situation is that even though the police are unclear about the start of the fire, many residents of the community have stated that goons of the central ruling party had threatened them to clear the area just a few days before the fire was set out. 

Even though there have been immediate rescue volunteers providing basic amenities to the refugees, it is very unclear as to the future safety and livelihood.

 

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