Amid clashes between the Myanmar military and the protestors following the coup, four Myanmar police personnel have crossed over to Mizoram, a senior state official confirmed on Thursday. Another security official put the total number of persons who have crossed at 11, including seven civilians.
“We are expecting more people to cross over,” the first security official said. Several others from Myanmar have tried to cross but have been blocked, a second security source said.
“Four people crossed over two days ago. They are in our custody. They are from Myanmar Police,” a top Mizoram government official told EastMojo earlier on Thursday. The four persons are in the custody of the Champhai district administration, the official added. The first security official quoted above told EastMojo later in the day that the total number of persons who have crossed over is 11 including four who are being kept in Champhai, a family of four including a woman and two children who are in police custody in Cherhlun. Another three are in police custody in Lungkawlh in Serchhip.
“Only the four in Champhai are cops,” this official also confirmed. One person was “returned” to Myanmar, sources said.
Abhishek Kumar, the Deputy Commissioner of Serchhip, said there are eight persons who crossed over in Serchhip and are in Lungkawlh. “In Serchhip the figure is eight,” he said.
The second security source claimed that a report in the international media about 19 police personnel crossing over was ‘exaggerated’. This source said that there have been multiple attempts of people trying to cross over, but they have been blocked by the security forces. “The security forces are trying to prevent it. There are apprehensions of more people trying to come,” the source said. “These are illegal immigrants,” this source pointed out.
There have instances of Myanmar citizens crossing over to Mizoram due to conflict in the recent past. Over 1,500 refugees had crossed over to Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district in November 2017 after fighting intensified between the Arakan Army, a militant group, and the Myanmar Army. Some of them stayed and were finally sent back in 2019.
“It is true that people have come in the past. But they have been sent back,” the second source said.
Meanwhile, the Mizoram government had earlier said that they would welcome refugees with open arms.
“As we all know, the military has overthrown the democratically elected government in the neighbouring Myanmar. While we wish that democracy is restored in Myanmar, we are also apprehensive that the people would eventually have to flee the military junta if the conflict goes on and on,” Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga said during a motion of thanks on the Governor’s address in the Budget session according to a report in The Assam Tribune.
“If the people of Myanmar have to flee the military, Mizoram will welcome them with open arms, give them food and shelter. We would even approach the central government to grant us permission in the event of refugees’ influx,” Zoramthanga said as per The Assam Tribune report.
The Indian government has reacted cautiously to developments in Myanmar. “We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld,” Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said earlier. “As immediate neighbours with close cultural and people-to-people ties as well as relations strengthened by exchanges in trade, economy, security and defence, we are closely monitoring developments in [Myanmar]. We will remain engaged with all concerned on this issue,” Hindustan Times quoted him.
The report has been updated with additional information.