Former Mizoram CM Lal Thanhawla | PC: File image

Aizawl: A week after Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga rejected the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directive to deport Myanmar refugees, former state chief minister and Congress president Lal Thanhawla followed suit in opposing the order as “not acceptable” to the Mizo people.

The Congress leader on Thursday issued a statement blaming the Myanmar military for staging a coup and unleashing atrocities and human rights violations against innocent people.

“I profoundly feel regret for the overthrow of the democratically elected government and gross human rights violations in Myanmar. I also vehemently blame the Myanmar military for staging a coup,” he said.

He also said that the BJP-led NDA government letter, which directed four Northeastern states and Assam rifles to check illegal influx from Myanmar and deport them, was “not acceptable” at any cost.

He said that hundreds of people from Myanmar have escaped to Mizoram to take refuge in the state due to political turmoil and human rights violations by the Myanmar military after last month’s coup.

Hundreds of innocent people have also been killed in pro-democracy protests, he said.

Also Read | India’s missing refugee policy may hurt Mizoram amid Myanmar coup

The five-time former chief minister wished that the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) headed by Zoramthanga disobey the MHA order even though the party is an ally of the BJP and part of the NDA government.

He urged the state government to provide food and shelter to Myanmar nationals and also extend support to the NGOs in their efforts to handle the Myanmar refugees.

Lal Thanhawla in his statement extended support to the people of Myanmar in their fight to restore democracy in the neighbouring country and felt regret for the Chin (Mizo) people, who have been killed in pro-democracy protests.

He also paid rich tributes to all the Myanmar citizens, who laid down their lives in the efforts to restore democracy in the neighbouring country.

The Centre and Mizoram governments are now at odds over the Myanmar refugees.

While the Centre wants to check influx and deport the Myanmar nationals, the Mizoram government argued that it can’t ignore the plight and suffering of the Chin people because they belong to the same ethnic group with whom the Mizos share culture and ancestry.

On March 10, the MHA wrote to chief secretaries of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh as well as the Director General of Assam Rifles guarding the Indo-Myanmar border, to check influx of people from Myanmar and to identify illegal migrants and deport them immediately.  

Zoramthanga had informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 18 that the MHA order was not acceptable to Mizoram.

He had also said that India can’t turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.

However, some NGO leaders in Mizoram are optimistic that the Centre will eventually have a soft corner for Myanmar nationals, who have taken refuge in India, like it had done to the refugees from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other countries.

Four northeastern states — Mizoram (510 km), Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Manipur (398 km) and Nagaland (215 km) — share a 1,643-km unfenced borders with Myanmar.

An official said that more than 800 Myanmarese, mostly from Chin state, have already entered Mizoram after the military coup.

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