Manipur, Mizoram differ on Myanmar ‘refugees’ 

Some 40,000 people from the civil war-torn Myanmar are said to have taken refuge in the two States 

September 28, 2023 07:12 pm | Updated 08:08 pm IST - GUWAHATI

GUWAHATI The Mizoram government has decided against collecting the biometrics and biographical data of ‘refugees’ from Myanmar while its Manipur counterpart has sought more time from the Centre in view of the ongoing Kuki-Meitei conflict to complete the exercise. 

Some 40,000 Chin people, fleeing a civil war in Myanmar since the February 2021 military coup, have crossed over to the two northeastern States. More than 35,000 of them are in Mizoram, which also houses about 700 Kuki-Chin people from Bangladesh and some 12,000 Kuki-Zo people from the strife-torn Manipur. 

The Chin, Kuki-Chin, Kuki-Zo and the dominant Mizo people of Mizoram belong to the same ethnic stock. 

A Mizoram Home Department official said on Thursday that the State Cabinet decided on Wednesday not to proceed with the proposed collection of biometric and biographical data of the people from Myanmar taking shelter in the hill State. 

“The Centre advised us to carry out the exercise but we said it would not be possible since our officials would be busy with the preparations for the upcoming Assembly elections,” a Home Department official said, declining to be quoted. 

The elections to the 40-member Mizoram House are expected by December. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had in May asked the Manipur and Mizoram governments to capture the biometric details of “illegal immigrants” in the two States and complete the process by September 30. Both States had agreed to this. 

Extension sought

The Manipur government started the biometric process in July but it has sought an extension of the collection period by a year due to the ongoing Kuki-Meitei conflict that broke out on May 3. “A team from the National Crime Records Bureau, deputed by the MHA, has been assisting us at the Foreigners’ Detention Centre at Sajiwa in the Imphal East district,” a Manipur official said. 

The Manipur government said several thousand people from Myanmar have sneaked into the State and have scattered across the hills, presumably those dominated by the Kuki-Zo people. The government, however, has specific information about 718 Myanmar nationals, including 301 children and 208 women, who entered the State’s Chandel district in July. 

These people are staying in seven villages — Lajang, Bonse, New Samtal, New Lajang, Yangnomphai, Yangnomphai Saw Mill, and Aivomjang — along the India-Myanmar border, officials said.

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