Don’t open camps for those crossing Myanmar border, Manipur tells officials

In case of grievous injuries medical attention may be provided, says letter to Deputy Commissioners

March 29, 2021 08:27 pm | Updated 08:28 pm IST - AIZAWL

Given the instances of Myanmar nationals trying to enter India through the border as a “fallout of the events taking place” there, the Manipur government has directed officials that the district administration or civil society organisations should not open any camps for food and shelter and those seeking refuge should be “politely turned away.”

“In case of grievous injuries, medical attention may be provided on humanitarian considerations. People trying to enter, seek refuge should be politely turned away,” M. Gyan Prakash, Special Secretary (Home), Manipur, said in a March 26 letter to Deputy Commissioners of Chandel, Tengnoupal, Kamjong and Ukhrul. “Aadhaar enrolment should be stopped immediately and Aadhaar enrolment kits taken into safe custody.”

A report on action taken may kindly be submitted by March 30, 2021, the letter added.

While that is the official position, ‘we are doing everything to help the refugees on humanitarian considerations’, a Manipur government official said on the letter, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, the Mizoram government had issued guidelines directing officials to provide shelter to those crossing the border following the coup in Myanmar but they were withdrawn after intervention by the Union Home Ministry.

Women soldiers

Riflewoman Jagriti, dressed in combat uniform and holding an AK-47, is among several women soldiers deployed with 3 Assam Rifles in Mizoram on the Myanmar border. With increasing smuggling and illegal crossings along the border, Assam Rifles, the designated border guarding force here, is looking to increase the number of women riflemen in service who have made a huge difference since their induction into the force.

Women riflewomen work equally as their male counterparts and have made a huge difference in increasing the recovery of narcotics and contraband as they have been able to check women carrying narcotics and contraband, an official on the ground said.

“I have completed four years of service. Earlier, I was deployed in Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, and took part in counter-insurgency operations. Through my childhood, I saw my uncle in uniform. From then on, I always wanted to join the force. It was my dream. Now after joining, I feel proud to be part of the force,” said riflewoman Jagriti, who hails from Gujarat.

Currently there are 200 riflewomen in Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force which celebrated its 186th raising day last week. There is an authorised strength of 2,000 riflewomen and efforts are on to encourage more women to join the force.

Assam Rifles has deployed riflewomen at check points to keep a check on smuggling of drugs and arms and have proven very effective.

Major challenge

In Mizoram, the major challenge for Assam Rifles is checking smuggling and preventing illegal crossings in the State which has a 510-km porous border and also a Free Movement Regime up to 16 km for residents on both sides.

Assam Rifles also carries out regular border pillar verification along the 1,678 km along India, Myanmar Border (IMB).

As per protocol, border pillar verification should be done once a year, but is usually done twice a year before and after the monsoon, said Col. Bejoy R, Commanding Officer of 3 Assam Rifles.

There are 72 border pillars along the IMB spread across four States of which 32 border pillars are in Mizoram. Border pillar 1 is at the trijunction between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, another officer said, adding the border pillars are marked by stones.

A typical border pillar patrol has one officer, one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and 10 soldiers.

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