illegal village in Mizoram
Representative photo. Image credit - janambhumi.in

The Mizoram government detected at least 19 unauthorised villages in the state and claimed these villages were established by mostly ‘Bangladeshi immigrants’.

The home and the local administration departments have been carrying out a massive exercise to detect unauthorized villages across the state, said a senior official on Wednesday.

The drive has been taken at a time when a household register bill is pending with the Centre for approval to identify genuine residents and foreigners.

The exercise began in early February.

The secretary to the local administration department (LAD), Rodney Ralte said there are about 19 unauthorised villages in four Mizoram districts.

The districts are Lunglei, Champhai, Mamit and Serchhip.

Ralte claimed, “These villages have been established by mostly Bangladeshi immigrants.”

“Majority of the illegal villages are located in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district, three in Champhai district, two in Mamit district and another one in Serchhip district,” said Ralte.

He said, “The unauthorized villages have been inhabited by mostly the Chakmas and Bru communities.”

According to Ralte, a strong appeal from the civil society groups and students’ bodies prompted the state government to carry out the foreigner detection drive.”

He said the identification of the inhabitants or residents of the unauthorised villages is in progress under the supervision of the deputy commissioners of the respective districts to ascertain if they are foreigners.

“Genuine residents of the state will be asked to return to their parent villages in the state while the foreigners will be pushed back to their respective countries,” Ralte said.

He ruled out the allegation that the government was taking up an exercise like the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“No NRC exercise has been carried out anywhere in the state. The state government is only identifying illegal villages and foreigners as per the existing law,” he said.

He said the state government also issued a notification banning developmental activities in all the unauthorized settlements and also asked churches and NGOs to refrain from taking up such developmental activities.

Officials of LAD said that Tuichawngchhuah, an illegal village inhabited by Chakma communities in Lunglei district, which was served eviction order in May last year, has been deserted by the residents, who shifted to nearby Tuichawng village.

They also said that Belva, another illegal village in the same district, has also been vacated.

Earlier this month, Chakma politicians and leaders, including BJP’s lone legislator Buddha Dhan Chakma and the party’s national council member Nirupam Chakma had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

They sought the PM’s intervention to stop the alleged “illegal NRC” being conducted by the Mizoram government specifically targeting the Chakmas.

“The illegal survey has been conducted in at least 14 Chakma-inhabited villages of Lunglei district. No such survey is being conducted in any Mizo-inhabited villages,” they said in the letter.

The Buddhist Chakmas are a minority in Christian dominated Mizoram and are mainly concentrated in two districts- Lunglei and Lawngtlai near the Bangladesh border.

In March last year, the state legislature passed “The Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019,” which seeks to identify foreigners in the state.

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