Refugees in India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center Darjeeling in West Bengal

Refugees in India refers to the history of refugees in India. The country has seen large influx of refugee populations throughout history.

Refugees from Greater Iran[edit]

According to Zoroastrian legend (see Qissa-i Sanjan), a few centuries after the conquest of the Sassanid Empire and the subsequent collapse of Zoroastrianism as a state-sponsored religion, at least one group of Zoroastrians eventually migrated to what is now the Indian state of Gujarat to maintain their Zoroastrian religious tradition.[1] Although this 16th/17th century legend is taken at face value by the majority of the Parsis, persecution was not yet a significant issue at the time of migration (11th century at the latest). Given that the same legend observes that they migrated from Sanjan (in present-day Turkmenistan), the decline of silk road trade in favour of sea-route trade makes it equally likely that their immigration was economically motivated. For details, see Parsi history.

Although isolated groups of zoroastrians may be presumed to have immigrated between the 12th and 16th centuries, due to persecution (for instance, the Mughal emperor Akbar encouraged relocation of skilled Iranians—irrespective of their religion). Immigration of Zoroastrians for socio-religious reasons is only again documented during Iran's Qajar era (1794–1925) when persecution of non-Muslims was rampant and by which time the Indian Zoroastrians had established special funds to assist their Iranian co-religionists. The descendants of these newer immigrants are known as Iranis.

Partition of 1947[edit]

Massive population exchanges occurred between the two newly formed nations in the months immediately following Partition. Once the lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders to what they hoped was the relative safety of religious majority. Based on 1951 Census of displaced people, 7.226 million Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7.249 million Hindus and Sikhs were forced to move to India from Pakistan immediately after partition. About 11.2 million or 78% of the population transfer was on the west, with Punjab accounting for most of it; 5.3 million Muslims moved from India to West Punjab in Pakistan, 3.4 million Hindus and Sikhs were moved from Pakistan to East Punjab in India; elsewhere in the west 1.2 million moved in each direction to and from Sind. The initial population transfer on the east involved 3.5 million Hindus moving from East Bengal to India and only 0.7 million Muslims moving the other way.[citation needed]

Tibetan refugees[edit]

A Tibetan woman in an Indian refugee camp

Following in the footsteps of the 14th Dalai Lama more than 150,000 Tibetan refugees have fled to India during the past 60 years. He left with his initial entourage following the abortive 1959 Tibetan uprising. He was followed by about 80,000 Tibetan refugees. Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to provide all assistance to the Tibetan refugees to settle in India until their eventual return). 120,000 refugees remain in India today. The Tibetan diaspora maintains a government in exile in Himachal Pradesh, which coordinates political activities for Tibetans in India. The Tibetan government-in-exile functions from McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamshala.

In 1960, the Government of Mysore (as Karnataka was called at that time) allotted nearly 3,000 acres (12 km2) of land at Bylakuppe in Mysore district in Karnataka and the first ever Tibetan exile settlement, Lugsung Samdupling came into existence in 1961. A few years later another settlement, Tibetan Dickey Larsoe, also called TDL, was established. This was followed by the establishment of three more settlements in Karnataka state making it the state with the largest Tibetan refugee population. Rabgayling settlement was created in Gurupura village near Hunsur, Dhondenling was established at Oderapalya near Kollegal and Doeguling settlement came into being at Mundgod in Uttara Kannada district, all in Karnataka. The Bir Tibetan Colony was established in Bir, Himachal Pradesh. Other states have provided land for Tibetan refugees.Jeerango located at Gajapati district in Odisha has a large Tibetan Community and also has South Asia's largest Buddhist monastery.

The Government of India built special schools for Tibetans that provide free education, health care and scholarships for those students who excel in school. There are a few medical and civil engineering seats reserved for Tibetans. Tibetans live in India with a stay permit which is processed through a document called Registration Certificate (RC). It is renewed every year, or half-year in some areas. Every Tibetan refugee above the age of 16 must register for the stay permit. RCs are not issued to new arrival refugees. The Indian Government also issues Indian Identity Certificate ("Yellow Books") after one years' processing with a RC, which allow Tibetans to travel abroad.

Refugees from Bangladesh[edit]

During the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Bangladesh-India border was opened to allow Bengalis fleeing genocide by the Pakistan Army's SSG units to render safe shelter in India. The state governments of India, such as West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura established refugee camps along the border. As the massacres in Bangladesh escalated an estimated 10 million refugees fled to India causing financial hardship and instability in Bangladesh due to 1971 Bangladesh genocides and as well as regional conflicts in the north-eastern states.

Some of the people from East Bengal, mainly Hindus, migrated to West Bengal during the Partition of India in 1947. These refugees were sometimes referred to as Bangals by the native population of West Bengal. Hindus made up 30% of the total population of East Bengal in 1947. However, after the partition, the Hindu population went down to 19% in 1961.[2] On 1991, it was down to 10.5%[3] and on 2001 census, it was 9.2% which is estimated to be further down to 8% at 2008.[4] Later, in 1941 census on whose basis, Partition was made showed 45.5% Hindus & now 28% in entire Bengal region comprising West Bengal & Bangladesh. The Muslim population in the neighbouring West Bengal has increased from 9% in 1951 (down from 19% in 1941 due to influx of Hindu Refugees from Bangladesh) to thriving 28% in 2001 according to Census of India.

In 2001 it was reported that many Bangladeshi Hindu families have crossed the border into India to escape repression in Bangladesh.[5][6][7]

Refugees from Pakistan[edit]

There are almost 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in Indian cities, some cities being Ahmedabad and Surat in Gujarat and Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur in Rajasthan.[8] In 2015 the Indian government granted citizenship to 4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan.[9]

Afghan refugees[edit]

More than 60,000 Afghan refugees came to India in the years following the 1979 to 1989 Soviet–Afghan War. The Indian government does not officially recognise them as refugees, but has allowed the UNHCR India to operate a programme for them.[10]

Sri Lankan Tamilians[edit]

There are more than 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils in India, most of whom migrated during the rise of militancy in Sri Lanka. Most Sri Lankans are settled only in the southern states of Tamil Nadu (in Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Coimbatore), Karnataka (in Bangalore) and Kerala[11] which have significant Sri Lankan Tamil populations.

Rohingya people[edit]

Rohingya people are ethnic Muslims of Rakhine State, Burma. Rohingyas have been declared as the most persecuted ethnic group in the world by the UNHCR. India hosts a significant number of Rohingyas in Delhi, Hyderabad, Kashmir, West Bengal and Northeast India. The Indian government does not officially recognise them as refugees.


External links[edit]