Rohingya refugee deported from Kashmir to Myanmar reunited with family

Separated in March, Hasina Begum’s family have now settled in Bangladesh as India continues to deport Rohingya despite UN refugee status

A Rohingya woman deported to Myanmar from Indian-administered Kashmir in March has been reunited with her family in Bangladesh.

Hasina Begum, 37, was deported from Jammu despite having UN refugee status, leaving her husband and three children behind in Kashmir. She was the first Rohingya refugee to be deported from among 170 who were detained by authorities in the region in March 2021.

Begum, who said the Rohingya were treated “worse than criminals” in jail, said she was suddenly summoned by officers on 14 March and taken for a medical examination and Covid test. “The jail authorities did not tell me where they were taking me, despite repeated appeals,” she said.

The next day, Begum was handcuffed and, accompanied by eight police officers, taken by train to the north-eastern state of Manipur.

“I was crying and pleading with them to tell me where I was being taken but nobody answered me until I was handed over to the Myanmar army on the Moreh-Tamu border crossing,” she said.

After 11 days in Covid quarantine, Begum was taken to Ranee, a small hamlet in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which she had left 10 years ago, five months pregnant, after the area was attacked. A Muslim family took her in, but as soon as she arrived, she contacted her husband and told him to sell whatever he could and take the children to Bangladesh.

“I knew I could not live like this, away from my family,” said Begum. “One year’s separation from my children seemed like a few decades.” She borrowed 400,000 Kyat (£171) from the family she was living with and crossed the border.

Earlier this month, the family were reunited in Cox’s Bazar, in south-east Bangladesh, which is home to almost 1 million Rohingya who have fled a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar army.

Rohingya refugees stand outside a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Jammu, India, in March 2021.
Rohingya refugees stand outside a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Jammu, India, in March 2021. Photograph: Channi Anand/AP

“It was the happiest time in my life,” said Begum on being reunited with her children, aged nine to 15.

Approximately 40,000 Rohingya live in India, but the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) has made it clear it wants to deport them back to Myanmar.

On Sunday, police arrested 26 Rohingya in Assam for allegedly travelling without papers. Earlier this month, 24 refugees were detained in Unakoti district, in Tripura state. All were believed to have been living in Kashmir.

At the beginning of May, Jafar Alam, who also had UN refugee status, was deported from Kashmir to Myanmar, leaving behind his wife and six children.

“Hundreds of Rohingya are fleeing to Bangladesh from India due to the crackdown,” said Ali Johar, co-director at Rohingya Human Rights Initiative. “India should not deport Rohingya, [they should] rather hold dialogue with Myanmar authorities to create a conducive atmosphere, and until then provide shelter to the refugees.”

Begum said the family has been supported by an NGO, but that they need to find work, and school for the children.

Begum is determined not to go back to Myanmar. “We saw our people being butchered in Myanmar in front of our eyes,” said Begum. “How will we live there if peace does not return?”


Aakash Hassan in Delhi

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Deportation of Rohingya woman from India sparks fear of renewed crackdown
Hasina Begum was separated from her family and forced to return to Myanmar despite her refugee status. Hundreds of others now face expulsion

Aakash Hassan

14, Apr, 2022 @5:30 AM

Article image
India warned plan to deport Rohingya refugees will only inflame persecution
Move to expel illegal immigrants will exacerbate religious tensions and prove ‘legally, procedurally and practically impossible’ to enforce, claim activists

Shaikh Azizur Rahman in New Delhi

24, Aug, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
The Rohingya refugee crisis speaks to the worst acts of humanity
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in the past year. It is vital we don’t forget them

Michael Sheen

22, Aug, 2018 @10:26 AM

Article image
‘A gift from God’: the Rohingya refugees adopting orphaned babies | Sunaina Kumar and Fiona Weber-Steinhaus
The sexual violence perpetrated by Myanmar’s military could have led to a surge in abandoned newborns – but it never came

Sunaina Kumar and Fiona Weber-Steinhaus in Cox's Bazar

25, Dec, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Fatal elephant attacks on Rohingya refugees push Bangladesh to act
Young boy becomes latest in series of casualties at Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, which lies on migration route long used by elephants

Karen McVeigh and Dinakar Peri

09, May, 2018 @1:07 PM

Article image
'Our only aim is to go home': Rohingya refugees face stark choice in Bangladesh
With citizenship in Myanmar still denied, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh must either live under severe restrictions or move to an isolated island

Sarah Marsh and Redwan Ahmed in Cox's Bazar

04, Nov, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
'I try to bury that pain': Rohingya refugees on the trauma they carry
Award-winning photographer Robin Hammond says survivors of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar carry deep psychological scars

Robin Hammond in Cox's Bazar

25, Aug, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Who are the Rohingya and what is happening in Myanmar?
Fresh outbreak of violence after decades of ethnic tensions has prompted tens of thousands of people to flee to Bangladesh

Rebecca Ratcliffe

06, Sep, 2017 @12:09 AM

Article image
Rohingya children left stranded amid garbage and muck in Myanmar
UN warns of ‘toxic fear’ among tens of thousands of children trapped in Rakhine state, some of whom have become separated from their parents

Karen McVeigh

10, Jan, 2018 @11:52 AM

Article image
Aung San Suu Kyi complicit in Rohingya 'ethnic cleansing' in Myanmar, MPs told
Rights groups urge UK government and international community to consider Nobel laureate ‘part of the problem’ over atrocities in Rakhine state

Karen McVeigh

15, Nov, 2017 @6:00 AM