At least 16 Myanmar nationals including 11 police personnel have crossed over the international border and are currently taking refuge in Mizoram villages to escape the brutality of the Burmese Army after it has taken over power in the neighbouring country.
The 16 Myanmar nationals entered Mizoram on different batches and are currently taking refuge in Champhai, Hnahthial and Serchhip districts, which share borders with Myanmar, said an official.
“Of the 16 foreign nationals, 11 have claimed themselves as Myanmar police. Though they possessed Myanmar citizenship identity cards it is hard to verify if they belonging to the police force or not,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
A woman was among the 11 police personnel and two cops came along with their wives and children, he said.
He said that the figure could increase at any time as many people from Myanmar are trying to enter the state following the present political unrest in the neighbouring country.
Four people, who entered the state on February 28, are currently taking refuge in Champhai town, while 8 people are lodged at a community hall at Lungkawlh village in Serchhip district and 4 others are living with the locals in Cherhlun village in Hnahthial district near the Myanmar border, the official said.
He said that the Mizoram government on Thursday informed the Centre about the influx of Myanmar refugees and the possible influx of more refugees from the neighbouring country.
He added that the state government also sought financial assistance from the Centre to deal with the possible refugee crisis.
Six Mizoram’s districts– Champhai, Lawngtlai, Hnahthial, Siaha, Serchhip and Saitual–share a 510 km long porous international border with Myanmar.
Mizoram is already home to thousands of Myanmar’s Chin communities, who share the same culture and ancestry with the Mizos of Mizoram.
Champhai district deputy commissioner Maria CT. Zuali said about 125 Myanmar nationals are now trying to cross over the Indian border at Farkawn village and several others have also attempted to enter Mizoram through different routes.
“The district administration authorities and troopers of Assam Rifles, who are guarding the Indo-Myanmar border, will continue to stop the refugees to enter Mizoram unless there is a direction from higher authority to let them in,” she said.
Siaha district deputy commissioner Kesavan R said he has sent officials to verify reports about Myanmar refugees entering the district on Friday.
Chief minister Zoramthanga said his government will provide humanitarian relief to Myanmar refugees, who took refuge in the state because of the military coup in the neighbouring country.
“We have learnt that some refugees have already crossed over to Mizoram. We will provide shelter and relief to those who seek refuge in the state till their return to their country. We have sanctioned money for the purpose, which will be used as per requirement,” the chief minister said while addressing the celebration of Mizoram’s most important festival-“Chapchar Kut” on Friday.
Zoramthanga said his government stands for the integration of all Mizo communities in the world.
Civil society organisations and student bodies in Mizoram also welcomed refugees from Myanmar with open arms probably because of ethnic affinity.
At least 55 people have been killed in anti-coup protests in Myanmar since February 1.