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'They came armed, with faces covered'

Anjana Sankar
Filed on September 23, 2017 | Last updated on September 23, 2017 at 11.50 pm
They came armed, with faces covered
Rohingya refugee children arriving alone in Bangladesh.

(Photo by Anjana Sankar)

Tiny group of Hindu Rohingya refugees recount tales of horror


In Hindupara locality in Kutupulong, a small crowd of Rohingya refugee women are collecting aid from a local charity. Clad in brightly coloured sarees and wearing glowing red dots on their forehead, they looked strikingly different from the thousands of women you see in other camps and on the roadside.

These are Hindu Rohingya who have fled from Myanmar and taken shelter in Bangladesh.
Crammed into the makeshift camp is 170 families, consisting mostly women and children. They arrived in Bangladesh in one big group on August 27.

Though the recent spate of violence and military crackdown in Myanmar has predominantly affected Muslims, a small minority of Hindus and Buddhists have also crossed the border to Bangladesh. Recounting the horror, one Hindu woman named Sharaswati Rudra from Sionsori village said, armed men wearing black face masks, attacked and killed many people.

"They were wearing black shirts and pants and black mask on their faces. We could not recognise who they were," said Rudra.

Bishubala, another woman, said there are no people left in their village. "They killed everybody. They were carrying guns, knifes and crude bombs. I saw them slaughtering people," said Bishubala who also insisted she will die not knowing who they were. "Their faces were covered."

More families Khaleej Times interviewed also told similar stories. Nithandra Phal, also from Sionsori village, said hundreds escaped when violence erupted in their neighbouring villages. "We gathered whatever we could, and walked across the mountains to reach Bangladesh."

Hindus and Muslim Rohingya had in the past traded charges against each other on who was to be blamed for the unrest in Rakhine state.

The segregation of Hindu and Muslim Rohingya refugees into different camps is but an indication of their communal divide, even in the host country. A local Hindu man said refugees would feel safer living within their same community.

But a local Islamic social organisation, Baitush Sharaf, was setting examples in religious harmony at the Hindu Rohingya camp. The organisation was distributing aid and money to the families when Khaleej Times visited the camp on Saturday.

"Religion does not matter. Humanity does. We want to help the refugees without discriminating against any religion," said Sirajul Islam, managing director of the organisation.

- anjana@khaleejtimes.com





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