Mizoram rights group condemns Assam Rifles action

Aizawl, 21 Aug 2020 (Zoram News): Zo Indigenous Forum, an indigenous peoples rights group in Mizoram condemns Assam Rifles personnel on Vairengte Area in Mizoram which put the lives of thousands of Mizo people at risk due to covid19 in their press release.

Stating that on 18th August 2020, at least 13 personnel of 46 Battalion Assam Rifles forced their way through the border gate after refusing to comply with the medical screening protocol put in place by the state government. “Despite various regulations, orders, guidelines and instructions issued by the state government and repeated appeals to curtail avoidable inter-state movement of troops, the Assam Rifles has been less cooperative,” stated the Mizoram State government.

They said that they were asked to undergo RAT test at entry point, a very effective measure the state government has taken up to contain COVID19. Other forces like Border Security Force personnel readily comply with this measure while the Assam Rifles personnel forcefully and impolitely refused to comply with the state government's guidelines. What is even more shocking is that around 25 army personnel with full arms and ammunition commanded by a Captain visited Vairengte from Aizawl. We believe that this is a tactic used by the Assam Rifles to threaten government officials and Vairengte villagers.

According to the state government, as many as 1,124 Assam Rifles personnel entered Mizoram from May to August 10, and 10 per cent of them tested positive for Covid-19. As per State health department records, at least 339 security personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, accounting for 38.83 per cent of the total 873 cases. Of the 339 security personnel, 101 were from Assam Rifles, 230 from BSF and four each from the CRPF and the Army, it said.

Zo Indigenous Forum strongly condemns the moves of the Indian Armed Forces forcefully and impolitely refusing to comply with the state government's guidelines, putting thousands of Mizo people live at risk of spreading the global COVID19 pandemic. There is no emergency or threat to security of the nation, which is an excuse of the Assam Rifles under the pretext of the order of directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This act of willful disregard of safety protocol had “seriously compromised” the safety of the people and we would like to ask all security personnel in the country to respect the state government guidelines and the people of Mizoram.

UNDRIP Article 30 clearly mentions that Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned, but without any emergency and threat for the states, aggressive military activities and increasing presence of defense personnel in the indigenous territories of north-east India is a grave concern for us.
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