Aizawl: Over 380 Myanmar nationals, including women and children, have sneaked into Mizoram so far, seeking refuge in the northeastern state since late February following the military coup and subsequent crackdown on pro-democratic movements in the neighbouring country, an official of the state home department said on Monday.

“As per information received by the state home department a total of 383 people from Myanmar have already entered five Mizoram districts, of which 297 have been verified and 86 others are yet to be confirmed or verified,” an official said on the condition of anonymity.

He said about 98 per cent of the Myanmar nationals claim that they belonged to the police force and fire service.

Six Mizoram districts – Champhai, Lawngtlai, Siaha, Saitual, Hnahthial and Serchhip – share a 510-km long porous international border with Myanmar’s Chin state.

Also read: Mizo group writes to President, PM seeking sanctions on Myanmar

According to the official, among the six border districts, only Saitual district has not reported any reported any refugees from Myanmar since the the coup. He said many of them were accommodated by locals as a mark of hospitality to strangers, which is one of the most important traditions of the Mizos.

Though the state government and Assam Rifles were trying their best to prevent illegal influx, the Myanmar nationals, who entered the state due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, could not be prevented due to the porous border and the state government cannot push them back now because it respected and believed in humanitarianism, he said.

He said that the state government is still waiting for Central directions on the Myanmar nationals.

Lalramnghaka, village council president of Lungkawlh village in Serchhip district, said that at least 19 Myanmar nationals are currently taking refuge in the district.

While 3 persons were accommodated by a family in North Vanlaiphai village, 16 others are being provided food and other relief by residents of Lungkawlh village by raising community funds, he said.

Chief minister Zoramthanga and home minister Lalchamliana had earlier said that the state government will provide relief to the Myanmar nationals, who have entered the state due to the humanitarian crisis in their country.

Recently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs wrote to the chief secretaries of four Northeastern states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which share borders with Myanmar to take appropriate action as per law to prevent illegal influx of people from the neighbouring country.

However, officials in Mizoram chief secretary’s office on Monday said they have not received the letter so far.

The home ministry letter said the states and Union Territories had no powers to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner and that India was not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

However, the MHA has reportedly told the four states to make exceptions in cases “absolutely essential on humanitarian grounds”. 

Subscribe to EastMojo

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new stories by email.

Join 160,607 other subscribers