14 lawmakers among 2,000 enter Mizoram to escape deadly junta

Guwahati, 13 April 2021( NEE): GUWAHATI: Fourteen lawmakers are among over 2,000 Myanmar nationals taking refuge in Mizoram after fleeing their coup-hit country.

The lawmakers have been kept under tight security arrangements. Some are Members of Parliament while the remaining others are members of a lower House. People taking care of them said they are like MLAs in India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier issued instructions to the Assam Rifles and four northeastern states such as Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to thwart any possible influx of people from Myanmar. However, the migration of the people has continued, particularly to Mizoram.

According to Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), which is Mizoram’s apex students’ body, hundreds of Myanmar nationals are on the international border, waiting for opportunities to cross over.

Six Mizoram districts such as Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual share 510 of the 1,643 km land border, which India shares with Myanmar. People from Myanmar’s Chin community and the Mizos in India belong to the Zo ethnic group and they share the same ancestry. The Chin people are settled in Myanmar’s Chin State, which shares a 404 km porous border with Mizoram.

MZP president, VL Tana Bawihtlung said not all of the refugees were from the Zo community. He said many of them, including some lawmakers, belonged to other ethnic communities.

“People are coming every day. Since they are not registered, neither by the government nor the Assam Rifles and intelligence agencies, it will be very difficult to say how many have arrived so far. More and more people might be coming. They are holed up in forests and looking for opportunities to cross over,” Bawihtlung said.

He said the refugees also included pregnant women and children and they were lodged at the houses of their friends and relatives. Communities are taking care of those who do not have friends or relatives in Mizoram.

“Communities are arranging their food and shelter. There are also some NGOs feeding them. These people are not just from the Chin State but different parts of Myanmar,” the MZP president said.

Mizoram MP, C Lalrosanga said most of the fleeing Myanmar nationals were lodged in the Champhai district. Champhai District Magistrate Maria CT Zuali refused to talk on the subject, stating, “We are not allowed to talk to the media”.

Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana and Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo did not take phone calls. Earlier, the state government had urged the Centre to view the influx of refugees as a humanitarian crisis and not to push them back.

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