The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has extended its deadline for the Manipur government to record details of illegal migrants in the State, including biometric details. Although the State was due to complete the exercise by September 30, it has now been granted an additional six months till March 31, 2024.
The Ministry on September 28 granted the Manipur government time till the end of the financial year to capture the “biographic and biometric details of illegal migrants”. Biometrics include the retina, iris and fingerprints. In a June 22 letter, the Ministry reminded Manipur and Mizoram to complete the campaign by September 30, 2023.
The presence of undocumented migrants and the crackdown against them is among several factors mentioned by the State government as being responsible for the ongoing ethnic violence between the majority Meitei and the tribal Kuki-Zo community, which erupted on May 3.
Thousands of people belonging to the Kuki-Chin-Zo ethnic groups, who share ties with people in Mizoram and Manipur, entered India after a military coup in neighbouring Myanmar in February 2021. In Mizoram alone, over 40,000 undocumented migrants have taken shelter.
On April 28, days before the Manipur ethnic violence erupted, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla chaired a meeting to collate the details of the illegal migrants present in the two States which share a border with Myanmar.
In a letter to the Manipur Chief Secretary, the MHA said that as the stipulated time period for capturing the details was going to end on September 30, it had been decided to extend the deadline to March 31, 2024.
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“It has been informed that the exercise is still going on and may require some more time to complete. The matter has been considered in this Ministry. In view of the above, it has been decided to extend the time period till 31.03.2024. Accordingly, State Government of Manipur is requested to take appropriate necessary action to complete the exercise within the revised time period,” the letter said.