Mosque in the Rohingya refugee camp in the Indian capital was flattened: refugees | Religious News

New Delhi, India – Refugees say that a few weeks after a fire engulfed settlements, the police and civil authorities in the Indian capital demolished a temporary mosque in the Rohingya refugee camp.

This mosque made of tarpaulins and bamboo sticks was bulldozed at around 7 am local time (01:30 GMT) on Thursday at a camp in the Madanpur Khader district of New Delhi, south of the city, on the border with Uttar Pradesh. .

The site of the camp where the mosque was once [Al Jazeera]

Nearly 300 refugees told Al Jazeera that although they called on the authorities not to demolish, most of them fled the brutal military repression in neighboring Burma, where the Buddhist majority is dominant.

The Muslim-majority Rohingya say that they have no place of worship.

The 33-year-old Mohammed told Al Jazeera that “the demotion started an hour after the morning practice prayers in the mosque,” ??and he wanted to reveal his name only because of fear of retaliation.

“They first destroyed the toilets and toilets, uprooted a manual water pump, and then demolished the mosque within 10 minutes.”

He said that when the refugees tried to protest, the officials told them instead that they were “illegal immigrants” and “occupied land” living in camps.

“I told them this is our place of worship, but they talked a lot about you,” Muhammad said.

“For us, mosques are like Hindus having temples. Their approach is completely wrong, but we can’t do anything about it.”

Obaidullah, a young Rohingya boy, said that he was very angry when he saw the mosque being demolished and his eyes were red, but he “cannot stop them”.

A police officer at the nearby Kalindi Kunj police station told Al Jazeera that the demolished building was not a mosque, but a crumbling hut. He refused to answer further questions.

The district judge, Pravel Singh, told Al Jazeera that he was not aware of the mosque being demolished and added that he had no right to make an official statement on the matter.

On June 13th of last month, the camp housing more than 50 refugee families living in crumbling shelters was destroyed in a fire — the second time the camp was reduced to ashes since 2018.

A small part of the mosque at the entrance of the camp was damaged in the fire, forcing refugees to live in tents provided by local non-profit organizations and activists.

Activist Aasif Mujataba’s Miles to Smile organization helped the Rohingya and worked with the government to rebuild them. He said officials have always claimed that the camp, including the mosque, is located on occupied land.

Shamsheeda Khatoon, a 27-year-old Rohingya woman, claimed that the demolition of the mosque was “carefully planned.” She said officials set up tents on the road outside the camp on Wednesday.

“They asked the refugees living in some tents in the camp in Uttar Pradesh to move to roadside tents. Then this morning, they removed the toilets, water pipes and mosques,” she said.

After the fire last month, the tent can accommodate more than 50 Rohingya families [Al Jazeera]

“They don’t even allow us to take out copies of the Quran and other religious books.”

Khatoon said that the removal of toilets and water pumps caused hygiene problems for women in the camp. “We now have no place to defecate, bathe or wash clothes.”

There are an estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees, many of whom are believed to be undocumented and live in cramped camps in Indian cities, including Jammu, Hyderabad and Nuh in Haryana.

The UN Refugee Agency has provided refugee cards to some of them, which helps them access basic services and should protect them from police operations.

In 2017, after the Burmese army brutally suppressed the Rohingya, more than 750,000 Rohingya took refuge in Bangladesh, which the United Nations described as “genocidal intent”.

Bangladesh currently holds more than 1 million Rohingya in narrow and dirty camps on its border with Myanmar. Many of them also fled to neighboring Asian countries, including India and Malaysia.

“The Rohingya live a difficult life in India, and they also face hatred and violence from the Hindu right-wing groups,” said activist Mujitaba.

“First, their huts were destroyed by fire, and now their mosques and toilets have been destroyed. This is a flagrant violation of the human rights and religious rights of refugees.”

Ali Jowhar, a Rohingya community activist in New Delhi, told Al Jazeera that “refugees are also human beings, and religious rights are a fundamental right in India.”

“To say the least, demolishing their mosque in this way is harmful,” he said. “The government should take a compassionate attitude towards the Rohingya, so that we don’t have to rebuild our lives again and again.”

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