With The Refugees

World Refugee Day commemorates the obstacles that Refugees face each year. It also honours their courage and strength, on June 20th the United Nations observes the World Refugee Day.

The United Nations High Commission has set up #WithRefugees petition to create an action plan to bring about solidarity and global responsibility on behalf of refugee. Asylum seekers differ from Refugees as they are individuals who have sought international protection and their claim for refugee status has not yet been determined.

According to the UN-refugee body as of 2015 there are about 2,07,861 persons of concern  and 6,480 asylum seeks.  India has offered sheltered to Tibetans, the chakmas the Afghans and ethnic Srilankan Tamils.  Despite of one of the largest refugee population in South Asia we are yet to enact an uniform law that addresses the issue of asylum.

Interestingly  none of the domestic laws speak in reference to the term “refugee” India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention on the status of Refugees nor has the 1967 protocol dealing with rights and services the host state must provide the refugees been signed.  Though there is an informal refuge regime, parallel to the international one, no formal asylum policy is devised; the decision for granting of asylum is ad hoc and case-to-case basis. In 2015 the congress MP Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member bill called the asylum bill 2015 it is to provide for the establishment of a legal framework to harmonize India’s refugee policy, this has not yet been taken up for consideration.

The Tibetans who came seeking asylum in 1959 along with the Dalai Lama were treated as refugee’s and given land and housing, it since been discontinued.  They can avail all the privileges of an Indian citizen though they cannot vote or take government jobs provided they have a registration certificate (RC) the RC a prerequisite to live in India is issued by the passport office Delhi on recommendations of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Delhi.

The Sri Lankan Tamil refugees could be either camp refugees or non-camp refugees  this depends on the socio-economic parameter. They cannot vote or own property though they can own cattle and purchase things for domestic use. The identity card is issued either for the family or to individuals, and it would document details of the names, age, relationships, gender, date and location of arrival in India their education background and the address in SriLanka, the camp revenue inspector also issues a refugee certificate which is required for them to return to SriLanka.

Since July 2016 the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jains Parsis and Christians refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan staying in India on Term Visa’s have been regularized, they are allowed to open bank accounts, purchase property for self occupation and suitable accommodation for carrying out self employment, take self-employment and obtain documents like driving licenses, PAN cards and Aadhar numbers. They are also given privileges like free movement within the state or union Territory; transfer fo visa paper from one state to the other, waiver of penalty on non-extension of short-term or long term visas on time.

Bangladeshi’s and Pakistani’s who belong to minority communities and have entered India on or before Dec.31,2014 have exempted from relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport Act 1920 (Entry into India) and the Foreigners Act 1946 with respect to their entry and stay in India without documents or after the expiry of those documents.


World Refugee Day

#WorldRefugeeDay,  #WithRefugees

 The United Nations observes World Refugee Day on June 20th each year. This event is to honour the courage and strength and determination of women, men and children who were forced flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

World Refugee Day is celebrated,  to courage of the refugees who face lot of problems after losing their homes to conflict or violence, I do not like to use the word celebrate, but would call it observation, since it is meant to remind people about the failure of the international community of home conflicts that forced these people to leave their homes and go to another place, just to save their life.

It is observed to eliminate all the horrific violence from the countries and community which is the main reason for people’s displacement and formation of refugee.

World Refugee Day can be observed with sharing the stories of Refugee’s, requesting government organizations for better management of the asylum seekers, and see as an community we could do it. ensuring the availability of basic amenities in their base shelter.

www.1947partitionarchives.org  shares lots stories, like Maryam Babar, who grew up in Hyderabad Deccan, the largest princely state of British India, and it was a given that Hyderabad would stay independent but for the conquering Sardar it would have. from 1947 to 1949 their life was unchanged, but in 1949 the police actions that took place triggered unrest, and 1951 the family migrated to Karachi. She says, very categorically “I am from Hyderabad Deccan, but I am not Indian.”

Mr.Om Prakash Gullani from Khyber Pakhutnkhwa, in Waziristan grew up there speaking Saraiki, a language with influences of Arabic, Persian and Urdu.  His childhood memories are of Afghan traders selling fruits and nuts and purchasing tea, sugar and cloth. During 1947 partition they travelled to Delhi through Lahore and Faridkot they were rehabilitated in in a one room apartment. Refugees he recollects worked as daily wage labourers, carrying heavy sacks to make a living.

Geeta Nayyar’s childhood memories are rooted in Sindh, born Nawabshah Sindh, she travelled with her parents until 1946 after which she stayed back with her maternal parents to school. But when the rumours of partition showed signs of turning a reality, they had to move, their first experience was Ludhiana refugee camp, which she reached after walking on food under police protection, and then boarding a bus. The memories of unhygienic living, scarcity of food, clothing, medicines disease being on rampage have left scars on her.

If these are the memories of first generation refugees, the second generation grew up with conflicts of a lost culture and trying to assimilate into the new, A sindhi friend of mine used to say, if she went out with locals, particularly since they had come down to Manipal which was far away from even Bombay the pseudo sindh recreated by the migrant community, her grandparents would look at it like betrayal of the sindhi community. while she could not really connect to the stories of Nawabshah or any other district of Sindh, for her reality was Bombay and Manipal.

Another friend who is a gynaecologist at UK sent her son for a trip to Sindh she says after he returned from visiting their ancestral village and viewing their ancestral home the boy is dealing with rage issues.

We need to stand by the first generation refugees, and ensure that their self respect is intact and their courage is lauded. We need to stand by the second generation, while they accept and emerge from their trauma, and find their way into the new community. stand by them and support them as they heal their trauma and resolve their crisis.