Activists decry death of 5-month-old Rohingya girl in Indian detention

Activists decry death of 5-month-old Rohingya girl in Indian detention

Girl allegedly died after inhaling teargas sprayed by Indian police

By Nusrat Sidiq

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) - Rights groups and activists have urged the Indian government to launch an investigation into the death of a 5-month-old Rohingya girl in detention.

Videos that went viral on the social media last week showed the Rohingya detainees, both men and women, at the Hiranagar jail in Jammu province, now operating as a holding center.

Teargas smoke can be seen billowing out after clashes broke out between the detainees and the police.

However, it was not known what happened inside the center until last week the body of the infant was handed over by the authorities to the relatives.

The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, an advocacy group, alleged that the girl died after failing to receive treatment due to the inhalation of the gas last week.

However, police maintained that the child died of an ailment and not in the clashes.

Koushal Kumar, superintendent of Kathua district jail, who is also in-charge of the holding center, was quoted by NDTV as saying that the baby was suffering from some ailment and died two days after the incident at the detention center.

About 271 Rohingya are detained at the center since April 2021.

- Protect dignity of asylum seekers

Sabber Kyaw Min, director and founder of the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, which campaigns for members of Myanmar’s Muslim minority living in India, appealed to the government to release the detainees immediately.

“We need to protect the dignity of those detained. Rohingya are human beings, survivors of a genocide and deserving of basic freedom and dignity given to everyone else. Those detained have sought asylum in India, not committed any crime,” he said.

In a fresh wave of arrests, more than 200 Rohingya refugees have been detained from various parts of India.

Daniel P. Sullivan, director for US-based advocacy group Refugees International, has expressed concern over reports from Rohingya activists about the death of the infant girl.

The presence of a child in detention speaks of "a larger flawed policy," he said.

“Rather than re-targeting and re-victimizing Rohingya refugees, India should be offering legal residence, expanded access to education and livelihood opportunities, and exit visas to those already accepted for third country resettlement,” Sullivan stated.

- Persecuted people

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Most of them are settled in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh, while some have migrated to third countries, including India and Malaysia.

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