Politely turn away Myanmar nationals: Manipur govt to border districts

Guwahati: Amid a crackdown on anti-coup protestors in neighbouring Myanmar, the Manipur government has instructed district officials to not allow anyone from Myanmar to cross over, according to an official communication reviewed by EastMojo.

The development comes amid reports that three persons with bullet injuries crossed over from Tamu in Myanmar to Moreh on March 26. 

“As a fallout of the events taking place in the neighbouring country, Myanmar, it is reported that the country’s nationals have been trying to enter India through the border states including Manipur,” H Gyan Prakash, Special Secretary Home, Manipur wrote in a letter on March 26, addressed to deputy commissioners of Myanmar border districts of Chandel, Tengnoupal, Kamjong, Ukhrul, Churachandpur. The letter says anyone trying to enter should be turned away politely. 

The letter carries five instructions: 

1. District administration should not open any camps to provide food and shelter.

2. The civil society organisations also should not be allowed to open any camps to provide shelter/food. 

3. In case of grievous injuries, medical attention may be provided on humanitarian grounds. 

4. People trying to enter/seek refuge should be politely turned away. 

5. Aadhar enrolment should be stopped immediately and Aadhaar enrolment kits taken into safe custody. 

On Friday, Th Vikramjit Singh, Tengnoupal Superintendent of Police, told EastMojo that three Myanmarese nationals with bullet injuries arrived at a health facility in the border town of Moreh early morning that day, and were referred to medical facilities in capital Imphal. Singh said he was not aware of the cause of bullet injuries.

Tamu is an Indo-Myanmar border town in the Sagaing region of Myanmar. Local news portals, including Myanmar Now, reported Sunday as the bloodiest day since the February 1 coup. According to the news portal, as many as 114 people were allegedly killed by the Myanmar military. The list includes 11 casualties in Sagaing. 

“We are following the instructions from the Home Department,” said Joseph Pauline Kamson, Deputy Commissioner Ukhrul. 

Also read: 3 Myanmar nationals cross into India with serious bullet wounds

Earlier this month, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh told EastMojo in an exclusive interview that the state government was ready to provide shelter. 

“I am really worried,” Chief Minister Singh told EastMojo in an exclusive interview at his residence in Imphal on March 8. “The decision to lend a helping hand has to be taken nationally… As an immediate neighbouring state CM, we are prepared to welcome any civilian who may cross over from Myanmar due to military atrocities,” he said, hinting that the state government is prepared to act if such instructions come from the Centre. “So all people, whoever comes, we will give shelter, we will serve them, we will protect them. That kind of things we have already prepared for,” he said. 

But on March 10, even as dozens from Myanmar, including police personnel, crossed over to Mizoram, the Centre issued clear instructions to Myanmar border states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur to take appropriate action to prevent influx into Indian territories. 

North East Division of the MHA wrote to chief secretaries of Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and director-general of Assam Rifles on March 10, mentioning the possibility of a “large scale illegal influx into Indian territory” through the Indo-Myanmar border. 

The March 10 MHA letter noted how “illegal influx has started.” It mentions an earlier letter on August 8, 2017, wherein “instructions were issued to sensitize all law enforcement and intelligence agencies for taking prompt steps in identifying the illegal migrants and initiate the deportation processes expeditiously and without delay.”

The instructions also clarified that states have no right to grant refugee status and reiterated that India is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees or its protocols. 

Also read: Runaway Myanmarese with bullet injuries in Imphal for treatment

The MHA instructions have faced stiff opposition in Mizoram, where there is widespread community support for the Myanmar nationals fleeing the coup. 

“This is not acceptable to Mizoram,” Chief Minister Zoramthanga said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 18, referring to MHA’s instructions. 

Zoramthanga wrote how Myanmar areas bordering Mizoram are inhabited by Chin communities who are ethnically Mizo brethren. “Therefore, Mizoram cannot just remain indifferent to their sufferings today. India cannot turn a blind eye to this humanitarian crisis unfolding right in front of us in our own backyard,” the letter read. 

The letter sought Prime Minister Modi’s intervention and said India “needs to do more and open up more in this matter.” 

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