By Hilal Mir, Anadolu Agency

Dozens of Rohingya refugees, considered ‘illegal immigrants’ by India, currently lodged at ‘holding facility’ inside jail

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir: About 20 of 170 Rohingya Muslims detained at a jail in Indian-administered Kashmir have tested positive for COVID-19, a health official said on Tuesday.

The regional administration detained the refugees in March at a ‘holding center’ set up under the Foreigners Act in the Hiranagar sub-jail of Kathua district of Jammu province.

Swami Anjil, a medical officer of the area, told reporters that during a routine health check-up on Monday, two inmates were found to have coronavirus symptoms. He said 80 detainees were subsequently tested and 20 were found positive.

The other Rohingya detainees would be tested today, Anjil added.

Following the mass detention, hundreds of Rohingya refugees fled from relief camps in Jammu province, fearing detention by government authorities who consider the community members from Myanmar “illegal immigrants.”

Thousands of Rohingya have been residing in the Jammu region since 2017, when the Myanmar military launched brutal crackdown on the Muslim community in the western Rakhine province.

According to Mohammad Haneef, a Rohingya community leader, there are over 6,000 refugees in 39 camps.

While the UNHCR has provided refugee ID cards to half of these refugees, India does not recognize their cards since it is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees.

More than 750,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh and other countries in August 2017 when the Myanmar military launched the crackdown that saw villages being burned down, extrajudicial killings, and rape.