Mizoram to not collect biometric data of Myanmar refugees as directed by Centre
The Union home ministry had in April directed to collect the biometric data of Myanmar nationals taking refuge in Mizoram and Manipur by September end
The Mizoram government on Wednesday decided not to collect the biometric data of the Myanmarese seeking refuge in the state, officials aware of the matter said.
The Union home ministry had in April directed to collect the biometric data of Myanmar nationals taking refuge in Mizoram and Manipur by September end.
While a pilot project for recording biometric data of Myanmar nationals was launched across all 11 districts of Mizoram, primarily in relief camps where the refugees are staying, but with the deadline for completing this exercise set for September 30, the chief minister Zoramthanga-led government has decided not to go ahead with the exercise citing violation of human rights, said state government officials.
The Union home ministry on Thursday had directed the Manipur government to fasten the process of capturing the biometric details of illegal migrants while also extending the deadline to complete the exercise by March 31, 2024, from previous September 2023.
“Since the Myanmar military coup of 2021, around 60,000 Myanmarese have taken refuge in the state. The government of Mizoram has provided all the relief to these refugees. The children have been given free education, free mid-day meals and others; and the state government, despite the Centre’s failure to provide any funds, is continuing to provide for the relief of our brethren,” Mizoram information and public relations minister Lalruatkima said.
“But, the ministry of home affairs (MHA), in a letter sent to the state government, had ordered for the biometric and biographic samples of Myanmar and Bangladesh refugees to be collected. This can lead to various issues as India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention”, added Lalruatkima.
The state minister also emphasized that “such profiling of our brothers and sisters is not required”, and that the state government won’t take up “such discriminatory exercise”.
Speaking on the issue Mizoram home secretary H. Lalengmawia said that doing this would be a violation of human rights.
“Biometric and biographic profiling of our brethren from Myanmar and Bangladesh is the first step of the process of deportation. As their country has not stabilized, it would be a violation of human rights to deport them before there is peace in their respective countries,” Mizoram home secretary H. Lalengmawia said.
He added that the state government does not have the manpower to conduct such an exercise as all departments are busy in preparation for the upcoming state assembly election in November.
It is worth noting that besides the Myanmar and Bangladesh refugees, Mizoram is currently hosting around 12,000 Internally Displaced Persons from Manipur.
Since staging a coup on February 1, 2021, the Myanmar Junta military has carried out a brutal nationwide crackdown on millions of people opposed to its rule.
About 50,000 Myanmar citizens fled to India since the military ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected government in February 2021.