By Aishik Chanda, New Indian Express

HYDERABAD: An eerie silence hangs in the air. The long row of plastic-covered makeshift tents reveal the plight Rohingya Muslims living in designated camps at Royal Colony, Balapur in the Old City. There was a sudden bustle as a visitor from Barkas handed snacks and chocolates as zakaat (donation) to the inmates.

Women and children came out of the tents and stretched out their hands. “Come with rice and you can see the commotion,” said Maulana Sultan Mahmood of Camp no. 1 in Royal Colony. This camp is one of the few free-of-cost camps donated by rich individuals of Barkas for the migrant Rohingyas.

“Asim Baasalama donated this area for the 26 Rohingya refugee families to live. However, we need to pay the electricity bill, due to which many families have left the camp,” the Maulana added.

The situation is even more pathetic in Camp no. 6, Fatima Masjid. As many as 46 families share the half-acre space with few common bathrooms and no drainage system.

But, they need to pay Rs 400 as rent for each house and Rs 8,000 in all to the Maulana at the local Madrasah (Islamic seminary).

However, lack of money ensures that the children miss out both Islamic and secular education, which is imparted at schools in Meraj Camp and at the house of a local teacher named Abul Hussain. “All the men at our camp work either as daily-wage labourers at Umer Hotel or rickshaw-pullers. Some have turned ragpickers,” said Abu Sayyed.

“We get work only once or twice-a-week and are shooed away if we try to pick rags,” rued Md. Rehan.

The amenities are comparatively better at Fatema Masjid New Camp and the inmates are paying a rent of Rs 520 per house. A water storage has been created and 26 families live in pucca row-houses. Mohammad Nur, who had fled his home at Nayafara in Myanmar following massive violence, said that even after 4 years of stay here, the authorities have turned a blind eye to them.

Over 3,500 Rohingya Muslims, who fled violence in Myanmar, took refuge in the city four years ago.

“Though we have adopted the local Deccani dialect, customs and made this city our home, Hyderabad has not accepted us,” lamented Nur Sultana.