New Delhi/Aizawl: Mizoram government officials and central agencies have alerted the administration in Champhai, Hnahthial, Siaha and Lawngtai of Mizoram about the possible inflow of refugees from Myanmar.
Chins, the ‘ethnic Mizos’ in Myanmar, have a history of armed conflict with the authorities in that country.
In fact, on Oct 15, 2015, the Myanmar government and Chin National Army had inked a peace pact and CNA cadres are now living in ‘Camp Victoria’. The Chins have been fighting Myanmar authorities for the last four decades seeking to establish a separate ‘Chin State’ as enshrined in the Panglong Agreement signed in 1947.
The ethnic group (Chins) claim that on Feb 12, 1947, Aung San Suu Kyi’s father Aung San had inked an agreement with Chin People. Mizoram shares a 404-km-long porous international border with Myanmar.
The inflow of refugees from neighbouring Myanmar – mainly Chins – to Mizoram – has started gradually though no official confirmation has been made. About 20-25 people have reportedly sneaked into Zokhawthar village along the international border and where the Indo-Myanmar border trade centre is situated.
The latest military coup in Myanmar is seen with a jaundiced view in Delhi vis-a-vis for the alleged involvement of China in the entire affair. Myanmar’s military junta carried out the coup ousting the Aung San Suu Kyi regime alleging there was electoral fraud during the elections held in November 2020 amid the Covid19 pandemic.
In the sixties and seventies, the Mizo insurgents in the face of actions from Indian security forces used to often sneak into western Myanmar and seek protection in that country.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, a former militant leader himself, said the people of the state would welcome ‘any ethnic Mizo’ or other Myanmar citizens facing persecution for participating in the pro-democratic protest in Myanmar.
Deputy Commissioner of border district Champhai, Maria C T Zuali, has said that any Myanmar citizen sneaking into Indian side fearing backlash from Myanmar authorities for their involvement in the democratic movement should be treated as ‘refugees’ under international protocol and provided with asylum and other necessary assistance and support.
However, the authorities have made it clear that those coming into India (Mizoram) have to follow a prescribed Standard Operating Procedures. The refugees would have to stay in designated camps and would have to carry specific identity cards issued by the Deputy Commissioner’s office. Moreover, they would not be allowed to move out of restricted areas and no visitor would be allowed to the refugee camps.
A large number of Chins and other Myanmar citizens after backlash from military rulers had come to Mizoram in the 1980s. Mizoram government officials say once the democratically elected government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi took charge, most of the refugees had gone back.