733 Myanmar refugees living in Mizoram

Aizawl, 25 March 2021 (IANS) : Top sources said that a total of 642 Myanmar nationals living at various camps across Mizoram have been located and verified. The intelligence agencies are trying to identify a fresh influx of another 91 refugees. They have been put in the "unconfirmed" category by the agencies. The fresh influx happened between March 18 and March 20.

As per the internal report of an intelligence age ncy, the maximum number of refugees are staying in Champhai district. The report stated that a total 324 identified refugees are staying in Champhai district and a fresh influx of 91 persons, who have not been accounted for so far, are also staying in the same district.

After Champhai, a total 144 refugees are staying in the border district of Siaha. As per the report, 83 persons are staying at Hnahthial, 55 at Lawngtalai, 15 at Serchhip, 14 at Aizwal, three at Saitual, and two each at Kolasib and Lunglei.

It further stated that most of the refugees are policemen and their families, and some are even army personnel who refused to shoot at the protesters opposing the military rule in Myanmar, sources said.

They are staying in community halls near the borders that are meant to facilitate accommodation under the Free Movement Regime arrangement while some others have taken shelter with relatives away from the border areas. A Free Movement Regime allows people to travel up to 16 km on either side of the borders and stay for up to 14 days.

India and Myanmar share 1,643 km borders and people on either side have familial ties due to the ethnic affiliations. Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are the Indian states that share borders with Myanmar but the influx after the coup has been limited to Mizoram, which shares 510 km borders with Myanmar.

The influx of these people is a sensitive issue in the state as people on either side of the borders have ethnic affiliations.

The Central and Mizoram governments are at odds over the influx of refugees from Myanmar after the military coup over there.

Mizoram government opened the gates for the facilitation of refugees and migrants from Myanmar in connection with the political development in Myanmar and issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding this.

Learning about the Mizoram government's SOP for refugees, the Centre directed the state to immediately revoke it.

Thereafter, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga said that the Centre's order to prevent illegal immigration from Myanmar is not acceptable. He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide them asylum on humanitarian grounds.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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