The Centre has assured steps for the Mizoram Government to provide assistance to the Chin people of Myanmar who have taken refuge in the State since the military coup there in February, Mizoram’s Chief Minister Zoramthanga has said.
This followed his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi a few days ago, he told journalists in State capital Aizawl on Monday .
“The Prime Minister assured me that they will make a plan to enable us to continue with our assistance to the Myanmar nationals. The Centre is willing to help, but it cannot directly help the Myanmar refugees because India is not a signatory to the U.N. Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol,” Mr. Zoramthanga said.
The Chief Minister said more than 14,000 Myanmar nationals were currently taking shelter in different parts of Mizoram, including Aizawl. He said representatives from Sweden would visit the State through the International Red Cross to provide assistance and assess the ground situation.
He said the Prime Minister was apprised of the food, clothing, shelter and other aid being provided by the State Government, NGOs, village authorities, churches and Mizo individuals to the refugees.
Mizoram shares a 510 km boundary with Myanmar.
The Chins share ethnic ties with the Mizo people. The State is already home to thousands of Chins who crossed over since the 1980s to flee the military junta.
Chief Secretary issue
The Chief Minister also said the Prime Minister assured him that the Centre would appoint a Chief Secretary with a working knowledge of the Mizo language. There was every likelihood of a Mizo IAS officer being appointed, he said.
Asserting he had nothing personal against the incumbent, Renu Sharma, Mr. Zoramthanga said the language barrier was the main issue.
“Most Ministers speak in Mizo during a Cabinet meeting and the Chief Secretary has to sit silently, which is inconvenient for her in carrying out administration efficiently,” he said.
The Centre had on October 28 appointed Ms. Sharma, an AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories) cadre IAS officer of the 1988 batch, as the Chief Secretary of Mizoram. On the same day, the Mizoram Government issued a notification directing J.C. Ramthanga, the Additional Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister, to take charge as the Chief Secretary.
Ms. Sharma assumed office on November 2, four days after Mr. Zoramthanga wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah requesting him to modify the Centre’s order of appointing her and instead appoint a person who knew the “working standard of the Mizo language”.