Gender, Religion and Settlement Problems: The Rohingya ‘Immigrants’ in Jammu (India)

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Abha CHAUHAN, University of Jammu, India
Rohingya Muslims are regarded as the ‘world’s most persecuted community’. Over 400,000 of them fled Mynamar due to torture by the State government. More than 40,000 have sought refuge in India. The estimated data from various sources suggest that between 6,000 - 14,000 Rohingyas live in the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in India. The Indian government consider Rohingyas as ‘illegal immigrants’ (not refugees) and has decided to identify and deport them, allegedly for being threat to national security and exhausting resources. This has generated debate across the country and in the world about their status as ‘immigrants’. In J&K, though they were given shelter and treated well initially, in recent years a hostile climate is created. Even if some NGOs and associations are working for them, there are various groups and political parties, including the present BJP government at the Centre and the State (coalition) which have taken arms against the Rohingyas and want them to ‘quit’ J&K. The problem of settlement has been tremendous for the people and Rohingya women suffer a much larger brunt due to their gender, religion and poverty. Feeding the family, doing household chores and working for livelihood have all been a part of their everyday struggle. They live in camps, small houses or shanties in poor condition, are denied basic human rights and work as labourers, rag pickers, scrap dealers and sweepers. This paper looks into the predicament of Rohingya Muslims in the process of settling down as immigrants and how Rohingya women negotiate their identity of gender, religion, class and nation in their everyday life and adapt strategies for their survival. The study is carried out in two sensitive border districts of J&K - Jammu and Samba and is based on the case studies of Rohingya Muslim women.