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Rohingya refugees in the lurch after Yogi govt denies permission to rebuild homes

Over 200 Rohingya refugees living in south Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj neighbourhood have been rendered homeless after a recent fire burnt their shacks. Things got worse when the Uttar Pradesh government stopped Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI), a non-governmental organisation, from building fire-proof tents for the refugees.

A Delhi government official said that the UP government has written to it staking claim on some portion of land which according to Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI) is registered under its name.

According to ZFI, in 2010 it had bought the parcel of land (registered under Khasra No: 590 and 592) and in 2012 allowed the Rohingya to build shanties.

A plot of land measuring 1,000 sq yards was purchased by ZFI in 2010 and it was duly registered with the registrar. Simultaneously, an additional 100 sq yard was purchased by ZFI through power of attorney,” said Syed Zafar Mohammad, president of ZFI.

The foundation claimed that UP government’s revenue department has raised the objection as they do not want Rohingya Muslims to inhabit the land.

However, the UP government stakes claim to about 15 sq ft of that land (under contention). It is just to hamper our humanitarian work and to stop Rohingya Muslims to inhabit the land, Mumtaz Najmi, secretary, Zakat Foundation told the reporters.

An official with the UP government said that the ZFI was trying to set up tents on the piece of land which belongs to state’s irrigation department. Thus, they stopped the construction and raised the issue with the competent authorities.

“ZFI tried to erect concrete structure on the land which is registered with Uttar Pradesh’s irrigation department under khasra No 612. We demolished the illegal structure in the presence Delhi government officials and police,” a senior officer of UP’s revenue department said.

Chief engineer (Yamuna) of UP’s Irrigation and Water Resources Department, TC Sharma, said ZFI tried to trespass on its land and sub-divisional magistrate (Sarita Vihar) was asked to take appropriate action.

“During my visit, we tried to sort out the issue brewing between the two parties. We have written to the UP government and funds are being sought for demarcation of land,” Sauravh Sharma, SDM (Sarita Vihar) said.

Officials of both Delhi and UP governments said ZFI can re-start construction after the demarcation is done.

On April 15, shanties of 55 families of Rohingya Muslims were reduced to ashes in an early-morning blaze. ZFI is trying to rehabilitate around 200 refugees on the same patch of land on which shanties were erected.

While ZFI has claimed that the administration is creating hurdles in constructing new structures for refugees, government officials maintained that they only have objection if ZFI trespasses on government land.

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