Other States

Mizoram fears more influx after fresh Myanmar offensive

File: An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard near the bridge on Tiau river along the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram, India.   | Photo Credit: AP

A fresh offensive by the Myanmar military in areas near the border with India has triggered fears of more people crossing over to Mizoram.

Officials in the northeastern State said more than 11,500 Myanmar nationals have taken refuge since February when the country’s military staged a coup. Some of the refugees have been moving back and forth depending on the situation in Myanmar, but recent airstrikes by the armed forces have made it one-way traffic over the last few days.

According to intelligence officials keeping a watch on the developments across the border, violence escalated after the Chinland Defence Force and Chin National Army, in a joint operation, captured a Myanmar army camp close to the Mizoram border and detained 12 soldiers. The military retaliated by strafing the border areas with helicopters and fighter jets.

Ethnically related to Mizos

The Chins of Myanmar are ethnically related to the Mizos of Mizoram. Militias of the former have sided with the pro-democracy forces, specifically the National Unity Government, Myanmar’s government in exile.

“We expect a fresh influx of Myanmar nationals into Mizoram due to the armed conflict. There are already about 11,500 refugees on our State,” Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha member C. Lalrosanga said.

Officials in Mizoram said the distressed Myanmar nationals have been swimming across the Tiau – a river along much of the 510 km border Mizoram shares with Myanmar – or escaping on small country boats.

Mr. Lalrosanga said that in absence of any policy regarding Myanmar refugees, villagers in Mizoram have been taking care of the refugees by providing them food and shelter.

Earlier this week, Mr. Lalrosanga and a senior official from Mizoram met Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and other top government officials in Delhi, apprising them of the situation across the border and seeking assistance for the refugees on humanitarian grounds.

CM’s plea to PM

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has been urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide humanitarian assistance for the Myanmar nationals as it would be difficult for his State to sustain the fiscal pressure.

According to an advisory by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the States and Union Territories have no power to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner, and India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 protocols.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 3:27:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mizoram-fears-more-influx-after-fresh-myanmar-offensive/article36649324.ece

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