Mizoram's shares 404 km porous international border with Myanmar

Apprehensions about the future of their relationship with the Myanmar Army after the recent coup led the Chin National Army (CNA) to explore the option of refuge for their family members in Mizoram, a functionary of the armed outfit told EastMojo.

Security sources in Mizoram said they have information about the likelihood of people crossing over from the neighbouring country in the coming days.

“It is true. Burma has again become a military dictatorship. Due to that our leaders requested temporary shelter if something were to happen at our headquarters,” Kima Salai, a lieutenant with the CNA based at its headquarters, Camp Victoria in the Chin State of Myanmar, told EastMojo in a telephonic conversation on Friday.

Farkawn, a small village with less than 3,000 residents, lies close to the border with Myanmar in Mizoram’s Champhai district. Camp Victoria is a short distance away from Farkawn.

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“We have requested the Farkawn village council for temporary shelter for our families in case the Burmese Army were to attack,” Salai told EastMojo, adding that the outfit requested shelter for other villagers in the area as well.

“We don’t believe Burmese Army will attack us because we have signed the NCA,” Salai clarified.

“It is (our request for shelter) because of reasons of preparedness. We don’t know what the new government thinks,” said Salai, referring to the uncertainty after the coup.

CNA signed a ceasefire agreement in 2012. They were among the signatories to the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement of Myanmar, which was signed by several ethnic organizations, including the Chin National Front (CNF). CNA is the armed wing of the CNF, which was formed in 1988 to secure self-determination for the Chins.

A security official told EastMojo that it is likely that CNF is “hedging its bets and playing too safe” in the aftermath of the coup and exploring different options.

After receiving information that CNA has got in touch with the village council in Farkawn, District administration in Champhai on Tuesday issued an order stating the likelihood of influx of refugees. Maria CT Zuali, the Deputy Commissioner Champhai, directed the villagers to report to the authorities if any refugees were to enter.

A second security source in Mizoram told EastMojo that they have been receiving inputs about the likelihood of people crossing over from Myanmar.

“We have such inputs. We will allow them,” the source said, adding that it is not uncommon for people to cross over when the situation deteriorates in Myanmar.

Over 1500 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.

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Meanwhile, Ministry of External Affairs said India remains engaged with all sides even as it continues to monitor the situation closely.

“We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. 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 that country. We will remain engaged with all concerned on this issue,” Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson, said in a media briefing.

Srivastava said that recent developments in Myanmar were discussed during the telephone conversations between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 8 and between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his US counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the next day.

“India and the US have agreed to remain in contact and exchange assessments on the situation,” Srivastava said.

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