In the backdrop of the recent kidnapping of seven Rohingya youths, families of the victims have approached the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeking intervention.
The letter on behalf of the families by NGO Law and Policy Research Institute states that there are 40 Rogingya families living in constant fear, anticipating backlash from the accused after they approached the police.
Zia Nomani, programme head of the NGO, said the families comprising 60 men, 52 women, and 13 children were living in a slum at Dasarahalli sharing the space with refugees from Bangladesh for the past seven years and were working as ragpickers. The Rohingya families also have ID cards issued by the UNHCR, many of which have expired. They are subjected to harassment and forced to pay money to stay in the slum and work as ragpickers. Refusing to pay would end in physical harassment which some times takes serious turns like the recent kidnapping of seven youths, the letter states.
Though six out of seven youths returned after paying the ransom of ₹40,000, Dil Mohammed, 22, is still missing and efforts are on by the police and the members of the NGO to trace him.
The NGO has requested the authorities to provide protection to ensure that harassment of the refugee families stops. They have also urged the authorities concerned to renew the ID cards which have expired as the card-holders could not get them renewed owing to the pandemic.
The attack is not new and the Rohingya families are victims of constant assault and harassment from the group that demands protection money, the NGO has alleged, citing the example of a 17-year-old girl abducted and raped in 2014 after her father refused to pay the “protection money”. In another incident, 18-year-old Farooq was beaten to death after he tried to save his mother in Hegde Nagar slum in 2015. The accused were beating her up for refusing to pay them money, Kaleemullah, member of the NGO who is helping them, said.