Mizoram: More influx likely from Chittagong Hills Tracts
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Aizawl: Mizoram is likely to witness an influx of more people from Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh in the wake of an alleged offensive operation against an ethnic insurgent group by the Bangladesh army, a local leader familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.  

Over 200 Kuki-Chin people from CHT fled their homes and entered south Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district on Sunday due to a military operation against Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA), an ethnic rebel group that demands a separate state and safeguard for the Kuki-Chin-Mizo communities in the neighbouring country. 

Richies Laltanpuia, vice president of the Tuichawng group of Young Mizo Association (YMA) in Lawngtlai district, who is dealing with the refugees, said that many children among those who entered Mizoram on Sunday came without their parents, some mothers came without their husbands and children and also some fathers came without their wives and children.

“We learn that some other refugees from Bangladesh also entered Mizoram on Monday night. We are yet to verify them. More people are likely to come as among those who came on Sunday are parentless, without wives or husbands,” he said.

He said that the Kuki-Chin refugees, who belonged to the Bawm tribes of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group, are provided with food by the locals and NGOs, including the Mizoram-based Bawm Students’ Association(BSA). 

YMA Tuichawng group will collect items of clothing and other reliefs for the Kuki-Chin refugees, he said. Meanwhile, Lawngtlai district Sud-Divisional Officer (Civil) Manesia Khaimeichho said that no more people from Bangladesh entered Mizoram on Tuesday.

He said the district administration on Tuesday re-counted the Bangladeshi nationals and a total of 272 people have taken refuge in the Lawngtlai district. Another official said that the Bangladeshi nationals had been shifted from Simeinasora village near the Mizoram-Bangladesh-Myanmar tri-junction to Parva-3 village late Monday.

The Bangladeshi nationals were lodged at a community hall, a school and a sub-centre in Parva-3 village, about 3 kilometres from Simeinasora in Lawngtlai district, the official said on condition of anonymity. 

Mizoram shares a 318-km-long international border with Bangladesh.

The influx from Bangladesh came at a time when Mizoram is grappling with over 30,000 refugees from neighbouring Myanmar. The Bangladesh army’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) is currently in a crackdown against KNA, an armed wing of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a body which represents the Kuki-Chin-Mizo communities in the neighbouring state. 

A leader of KNF said that more than three encounters have taken place near Theihkhiang and nearby villages in CHT between the KNA and the Bangladesh Army backed by Myanmar’s largest insurgent group Arakan Army (AA) on November 16 and 17.

He alleged that the Bangladesh Army had aligned with the AA to launch joint operations against the KNA.

Several AA cadres were killed in an hour-long encounter on November 16, he said. 
The leader alleged that the Bangladesh Army and AA have also abducted 14 civilians, including a 17-year-old girl, recently.

“The Bangladesh Army has kidnapped five civilians and the AA also abducted nine civilians from the ethnic Zo (Mizo) dominated villages in CHT recently,” the leader, who refused to be named, said.

He added that four KNA cadres, who were sent to broker peace with the AA, were also arrested by the latter recently.

The leader alleged that the Bangladesh Army has prevented the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people from buying foodstuffs and other materials and also selling their products since it launched combing operations against the KNA in October this year. 

He added that about 3,000 civilians have been displaced due to the ongoing operation and only a few have come to Mizoram to take shelter. 

Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO), a Mizoram-based association fighting for the re-unification of   Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, has vehemently condemned the attack on civilians of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo community by the Bangladesh army

ZORO vice president Lalmuanpuia Punte said that they also appealed to the people of Mizoram to extend humanitarian aid to Bangladesh’s Chin-Kuki community with whom the Mizos share ethnic ties. According to a leader, about 3.5 lakh minority Kuki-Chin-Mizo communities live in CHT. 

The Mizoram cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend humanitarian aid to the Kuki-Chin people, who fled from Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh in the wake of an alleged offensive operation against an ethnic insurgent group by the Bangladesh army, a minister said. 

The meeting of the council of ministers presided over by chief minister Zoramthanga extended sympathy to the Bangladeshi nationals, who fled their homes, and decided to provide temporary shelter, food and other basic amenities to the Bangladeshi nationals, home minister Lalchamliana said.

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