Chin refugees face ‘unfair’ rent rises, couple locked out in Delhi
08 February 2013: An ‘uninformed’ increase in the cost of renting a room privately managed by local Indian owners has put Chin refugees’ lives at serious risks in New Delhi, India.
Dozens of Chin refugees including children and women face difficult situations where their rented rooms are locked out by the Indian landlords while they are outside working or visiting in the city.
Last Tuesday, Mr. Kham Bawi Thawng and wife Rachael, a refugee couple originally from Hakha, Chin State, were left outside the house at night after the Indian landlady had locked their rented room.
“We came home at around 10:00 p.m. and we found that our room was locked. We tried to find the landlady but she was not at home. It was raining heavily outside and we didn’t really know what to do,” said Mrs Thawng.
The couple, who have rented their room since September 2011, said they eventually contacted another Chin refugee family and managed to spend the night with them.
Mrs Kham Bawi Thawng said the Indian landlady demanded an extra 500 rupees in addition to their agreed rent of 1,500 rupees once they started moving into the room.
“It is a small room with no kitchen. She [landlady] increased 500 rupees two times between September 2011 and February 2013. Now, we have to pay 3,000 per month.”
“I learned from my refugee neighbor that the landlady would like to increase the rent again. But I don’t understand why she did so without informing us,” she added.
The Chin couple also expressed difficulties in communicating with their landlady due to language barriers but said they didn’t have any argument over a thing in the past.
“We have no place to eat and sleep. We are human beings, not animals. It really hurts when we are treated like this,” continued Rachael.
The following morning, the Chin couple contacted an Indian NGO, Don Bosco Ashalayam, hoping that their assistance in communicating with the house owner would at least create a better understanding between them.
It is reported that the Chin refugee couple are still in discussion with their Indian landlady over the issue although they have been temporarily permitted into the room.
Kham Bawi Thawng and Rachael came to New Delhi to seek protection from the UNHCR in January 2011.
The Chin Refugee Committee (CRC) said there have been times Chin refugees got evicted from their rented houses or rooms without any good reasons by their landlords.
Other incidents reported by Chin refugees involve a range of cases including rape, sexual violence, physical assaults, discrimination, and atrocities committed by landlords and local Indians, according to a documentation by CRC.
Ninety-five percent of women feel unsafe outdoors in New Delhi, according to the Times of India‘s report based on the survey by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).
Reporting by A Hmun with Thawng Zel Thang