Chief Minister quoted out of context in the virtual meeting of Prime Minister with Chief Minister of North Eastern States

Aizawl the 16th July, 2021: The Chief Minister’s Office released the following statement regarding news report by some media outlets on the virtual meeting of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of North East India on July ni 13, 2021:

Chief Minister Zoramthanga’s remarks about refugees from Myanmar at the recent virtual meeting of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi with the Chief Ministers of eight North Eastern States to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the region have been totally misconstrued by some news outlets. These media agencies have quoted Chief Minister Zoramthanga out of context and reported that “Sources say the Mizoram chief minister told the PM that the rise in Covid cases in his state was due to the constant influx of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh, and sought his intervention.” This is a serious allegation that is misleading and baseless.

At the meeting, Chief Minister Zoramthanga while talking about the pandemic situation mentioned the porous nature of the international borders that Mizoram shares with Myanmar and Bangladesh. He pointed that during the first wave last year, thousands of volunteers that form the unique grassroots COVID-19 warriors of the state – members of the Village Level Task Forces kept vigil on these international borders for many months in order to protect Mizoram from infiltrators who could be COVID-19 positive and spread it. (This was at a time, last year when all international borders including foreign flights were closed.) During the first wave last year, he said that Mizoram had done well and the number of cases were not comparable to what Mizoram is now experiencing in the second wave. He lauded the efforts of the VLTFs whose efforts and sacrifices helped Mizoram in containing the pandemic last year. In his initial remarks, nowhere did the Chief Minister remark that the rise in COVID cases was due to the influx of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

In his remarks, the Chief Minister mentioned that with the military junta overthrowing the democratically elected government of Myanmar in February 2021, thousands of Mizo who lived in Myanmar sought refuge and shelter in Mizoram and crossed over. He said that Mizos across the border in Myanmar are our brethren with whom we share close cultural and family ties, with many having close family connections, hence it was not possible for Mizoram to refuse shelter to our own brethren who fled Myanmar fearing for their lives. Soon after this, the second wave of the pandemic manifested and Mizoram not only had to fight the pandemic with its limited resources but also had to look after the refugees from Myanmar and provide them food, shelter and medicines. This has strained the financial resources of the state. This was where the Chief Minister sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to aid the humanitarian crisis of the refugees from Myanmar who had sought refuge in Mizoram. The Chief Minister also mentioned that for the past few months Mizoram also had to bear the brunt of the African swine fever, which has killed thousands of pigs and caused huge losses to livestock farmers of the state.

In today’s fast paced world, misinformation and misreporting can hurt sentiments and create barriers between people and communities. Therefore it is very important that media outlets and agencies verify sources and carry credible news.

~ DIPR

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