More than 1,800 people from Myanmar have crossed over to Mizoram in the past few days in a fresh influx triggered by a military offensive in the neighbouring country, a minister said on Tuesday.
State police said that as many as 11,035 Myanmar nationals are currently taking shelter in Mizoram.
Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said that the Myanmar nationals, who entered the state fleeing a military offensive in the wake of a nationwide uprising called by the Burmese government-in-exile, National Unity Government (NUG) last week, were mostly from Chin state.
“I have learned that about 1,850 people from Myanmar entered some border districts like Champhai, Hnahthial and Lawngtlai in the past few days. But I am yet to receive an official record as I am under quarantine at present,” he said.
He said that the Centre has not responded to the state government’s letters seeking asylum for the Myanmar nationals in the country.
“The Central government did not provide political asylum and relief to the Myanmar nationals, who fled their country for fear of their lives due to political reasons. It also no longer insisted on pushing back the foreign nationals as it did earlier after the state government has informed the situation and made an appeal that the Myanmar nationals be given asylum,” he said.
Lalchamliana had informed the state assembly last week that the state government has already released Rs 30 lakh to assist the Myanmar nationals on humanitarian ground.
Six Mizoram districts – Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual- share a 510 km long international border with Myanmar’s Chin state.
The northeastern state has been facing an influx from Myanmar since late February after the military junta seized power through a coup on February 1.
Most of the Myanmar nationals, who fled to Mizoram, belong to the Chin community, who share the same ancestry and close ethnic ties with the Mizos.
Earlier in March, Chief Minister Zoramthanga had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the latter to provide relief and asylum to the Myanmar nationals.
A delegation from the state led by lone Lok Sabha member C. Lalrosanga had also met Union ministers in Delhi over the Myanmar nationals in mid-March.
Meanwhile, villages along the Indo-Myanmar border are gearing up to provide shelters and food to the Myanmar nationals by setting up relief camps and collecting donations following the fresh influx.
PC Lalremkunga, village council present of Thingsai, a village on the Mizoram-Myanmar border in Hnahthila district said that villagers are erecting some more temporary camps in the village to accommodate the Myanmar nationals as their number increased following gunfights between armed civilians and the Myanmar army recently.
He told this reporter that about 417 people, including children and senior citizens, from Myanmar, entered the village in the past 4 days after Chinland Defence Force (CDF) comprising armed civilians led by Chin National Army (CNA) attacked and seized a military camp at Myanmar’s Lungler village close to Thingsai on September 10 and 12.
The village is currently housing over 700 Myanmar nationals and 200 of them are camping near Tiau river on the Indo-Myanmar border, he said.
He said that Raltlan Relief and Management constituted by the villagers has already completed the construction of a relief camp having 10 houses in the village and some more temporary camps are now being erected.
Members of Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (Women organisation) are collecting utensils, clothes and mattresses (sleeping materials) and the relief committee is raising money for the Myanmar refugees, he said.
Tuipuiral group of Young Mizo Association (YMA) president MC Lalramenga also said that at least 449 more people from Myanmar entered border villages in Tuipuiral area of Champhai district after September 7.
Tuipuiral area covers at least 21 border villages in Champhai district, which borders Myanmar.
The leader said that three relief camps were constructed at Zawlsei, Farkawn and Vaphai villages by villagers and few more temporary camps will also be erected to accommodate the Myanmar nationals.
He said that the Tuipuiral area alone is currently housing about 1,437 Myanmar nationals.
According to Lalramenga, some refugees are accommodated by their relatives while a few have also rented houses in different villages.
The state police’s record on Monday showed that as many as 11,035 Myanmar nationals are currently taking shelter in Mizoram.
However, police said that the figure is fluctuating almost every day as people are still entering the state while some people used to return to their country and others used to go to other Indian states regularly.