The Manipur government on July 24 asked the Assam Rifles to immediately “push back” 718 Myanmar nationals, including 301 children, who entered the State illegally on July 22 and 23. The State government also sought a detailed report from the border guarding force on how the “refugees” were allowed to “enter illegally.”
The Assam Rifles had informed the Deputy Commissioner of Chandel district that due to “ongoing clashes” at Khampat in Chin State of Myanmar, a total of 718 fresh refugees had entered the New Lajang area in Chandel on July 22-23 and sought the presence of a representative for joint verification of the “illegal migrants.”
There are over 40,000 refugees from Myanmar who have taken shelter in Mizoram and Manipur since a military coup in the neighbouring country in February 2021.
A defence source said the refugees, who include 208 women, fled to India after a gunfight between the Myanmar Army and the rebel People’s Defence Forces (PDF) continued for over 48 hours. There were reports of aerial reinforcement by the Myanmar Army.
Manipur Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi said in a communication to the Assam Rifles on Monday that “in connection with similar issues in the past, the State government had clearly informed the Assam Rifles, being border guarding force, to take strict action to prevent entry of Myanmar nationals into Manipur on any ground without valid visa/travel documents as per the instruction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.”
The letter said that the State government views the “fresh illegal entry of 718 refugees very seriously with utmost sensitivity as the same may have international ramifications, more particularly in view of the ongoing law and order issues.”
It said the State government had sought a detailed report from the Assam Rifles to clarify the facts and compelling circumstances and reasons, as to why and how these 718 Myanmar nationals were allowed to enter India without proper travel documents “along with strict advice to push back those 718 illegal Myanmar nationals immediately.”
It further said that the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of Chandel District had also been advised to oversee the implementation of the push-back and record biometrics and photograph of all such persons.