Over 380 Myanmar nationals, including women and children, have so far sneaked into Mizoram seeking refuge since late February following the military coup and subsequent crackdown on pro-democratic movements in the neighbouring country.
“As per information received by the state home department a total of 383 people from Myanmar have already entered five Mizoram districts, of which 297 were already verified while 86 others were yet to be confirmed or verified,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity.
About 98 per cent of the Myanmar nationals claimed to belong to the police force and fire service.
Six Mizoram districts- Champhai, Lawngtlai, Siaha, Saitual, Hnahthial and Serchhip- share a 510 km long porous international border with Myanmar’s Chin state.
According to the official, among the six border districts, only Saitual district has not reported an influx of any refugees from Myanmar after the coup.
He said that many of them were accommodated by the locals as a mark of showing hospitality to strangers, which is one of the most important traditions of the Mizos.
Though the state government and Assam Rifles were trying their best to prevent illegal influx, the Myanmar nationals, who have already entered the state due to humanitarian crisis, could not be prevented due to the porous border.
The Mizoram government could not now push them back because it respected and believed in humanitarianism, he said.
The Mizoram government is still waiting for a direction on the Myanmar nationals.
Lalramnghaka, village council president of Lungkawlh village in Serchhip district said that at least 19 Myanmar nationals are currently taking refuge in the district.
While 3 persons were accommodated by a family in North Vanlaiphai village, 16 others are being provided food and other reliefs by residents of Lungkawlh village by raising community funds, he said.
Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga and home minister Lalchamliana had earlier said that the state government will on humanitarian grounds provide relief to the Myanmar nationals.
Recently, the Union ministry of home affairs has reportedly written to the chief secretaries of four Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which share international borders with Myanmar to take appropriate action as per law to prevent an illegal influx of people from the neighbouring country.
However, officials in Mizoram chief secretary office said on Monday they have not received any such letter from the ministry so far.
The home ministry letter reportedly states that states and Union Territories had no powers to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner and that India was not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.
However, the MHA has reportedly told the four states to make exceptions in cases “absolutely essential on humanitarian grounds”.