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SJC funds project on the plight of Rohingyas

Understanding the plight of statelessness and the importance of citizenship to such people by studying the Rohingya people living in India is the underlying goal of the project by Dr. Priyanca Mathur Velath from the Department of Political Science at St Joseph’s College.

The college funded project titled ‘Nation-State and its Members: Dilemma of Citizenship and Outsiders in India’ with a grant of Rs 1 lakh and for a duration of one year is a continuation of a smaller 6 month project she conducted last year with funding from the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group(MCRG).The study titled ‘Rohingyas in India: Birth of a Stateless community’ was published in a report as a part of MCRG’s policies and practices series and was co-authored by her student Kriti Chopra who was doing her Master’s dissertation on the same topic.

The project contrasts two groups-One group that is stateless and the other, which has just overcome statelessness. The stateless group she talks about are the Rohingyas (Muslim minorities from Rakhine state of Myanmar who have been prosecuted and driven out), particularly the ones living in Hyderabad city of Telangana. They are not recognized as citizens by the 2008 Myanmar constitution.. Dr Velath wants to look into their condition as stateless people who have no rights as citizens or as refugees. She hopes to revisit the field in Hyderabad over the weekends and study the conditions of the camps again.

The second is a group who were stateless till last year. They were people living in the ‘chitmahals’ or enclaves in between the borders of India and Bangladesh and were granted Indian citizenship last year. She intends to travel to these enclaves during her summer break and ascertain what citizenship means to them after formerly being stateless.