Mizoram and the Indian government are taking a different stand on the current issue of refugees from Myanmar.
After the coup in Myanmar, at least, 1,000 people from the adjoining Chin state of Myanmar crossed the border and are currently at Mizoram. Since the Chins are ethnically related to the Mizos, the Mizoram government favours providing refuge to the Chins.
But the (Ministry of Home Affairs) MHA has issued a few directives to the States and UTs for taking measures against the influx. Further, The MHA directives advised Mizoram that India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.
Mizoram, at present, is facing a dilemma between acting on humanitarian grounds or on India’s refugee policy.
Challenges in India-Myanmar Border management:
- Most of the borders are without fence: India-Myanmar border is not like India’s border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The majority of the border areas are not fenced. The Assam Rifles at the India-Myanmar border is facing challenges in maintaining strict vigil.
- Close people to people ties: There are more than 250 villages with almost 3,00,000 populations living within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. In 2018, both Indian and Myanmar agreed to streamline the movement of people within 16 km of the border.
Previous such Refugee problem in Myanmar:
- Myanmar in the past faced also Extremism, counter-insurgency, and sectarian violence. All these act as a push-factor and made Myanmar people flee into India as refugees. For example, In 2017, More than 1,200 Buddhists and Christians from Myanmar’s Arakan State fled as a refugee to Mizoram.
- Thousands of Chins are living in Mizoram for more than 40 years now as a refugee. Similarly, in Manipur, the villages of the Kuki-Zomi have often had people crossing Myanmar border and staying in India for some time.
Mizoram’s stand on refugee:
- Mizoram’s government issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) to Deputy Commissioners of border districts. In that, they mentioned facilitating the entry of refugees and migrants.
- Further, the Mizoram government mentioned giving medical care, relief and rehabilitation, and security to the refugees.
Indian government stand on Mizoram:
- The central government expressed displeasure to the Mizoram government. However, the Mizoram government revoked the SOPs later.
- The North East Division of the MHA issued a letter to chief secretaries of India-Myanmar border states and Director General of Assam Rifles. In that, the MHA directed few important suggestions like,
- Not to allow refugees from Myanmar and take appropriate action as per law.
- The state governments have no powers to grant ‘refugee’ status to any foreigner.
Mizoram’s response to Central government:
The Mizoram government mentions that they share close ethnic ties with the people of Myanmar. Further, they also clarified a few important things to the central government. Such as they don’t want to provide full-time citizenship or employment to the refugees. Instead, they want to provide refugee status until Myanmar returns to normalcy.
Source: The Hindu