Myanmar refugee to meet her children after five years

Kolkata: Myanmar citizen Jahura Begum’s dream of reuniting with her seven children is coming true after a five-year agonising wait in India which she entered along with her children illegally in 2009.

The 55-year-old woman fled her country after a reign of terror was allegedly unleashed by the Junta on Rohingya, which she belonged to, and other minorities in 2009, Debrup Bhattacharjee, a practising advocate attached with an NGO “Human Rights Law Network”, said.

“Jahura had given up the hope of ever meeting her children and husband. But armed with a court’s order now she will be able to reunite with her family sometime this month,” Bhattacharjee said.

After Jahura Begum alias Jahura Bibi entered India via Bangladesh, she and his children were caught by the BSF and were handed over to the police.

“In the court where she was produced she accepted her guilt and was sentenced to imprisonment for one year and two months. But still she languished in jail prison even after the completion of her term as she failed to provide any legal document or refugee asylum status to stay back in India,” Bhattacharjee told PTI

As Jahurá’s children were juveniles at the time of arrest in 2009, they were tried under the juvenile law and handed over to the Child Welfare Department. Thereafter, they were shifted to a home for orphan children.

Meanwhile, Jahura’s husband Mohammed Yakub got in touch with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and came to India with a refugee status, in search of his missing wife and children.

Yakub, while staying at a refugee camp in J&K, came in touch with an NGO which works with the Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar. The NGO later traced Jahura to Dum Dum Central Jail in West Bengal and his children in a home.

While the children were sent to the refugee camp to stay with Yakub, Jahura continued to languish in jail.

Bhattacharjee said his NGO then undertook to reunite the family, but in the process encountered difficulties as the Ministry of External Affairs and refugee settlement offices were all based in Delhi through which the matter would have to be moved.

The NGO then took the matter before the court, which passed an order mid last month that Jahura be sent to Tihar Jail in the next four weeks to enable her to avail of the procedure required for reuniting with her family with a refugee status.

“Yes we have got the order. We need a clearance from DG Tihar, after which Jahura Begum will be sent to Tihar jail,” IG (prisons), West Bengal Ranveer Kumar told PTI.

Bhattacharjee said that after hearing the court’s order Jahura wept with joy.

He said the MEA had given an assurance that Jahura’s case would be looked into with sensitivity.