Myanmar coup: Manipur retracts order to ‘turn away’ refugees

A fresh letter by H Gyan Prakash, special secretary (home), government of Manipur, was issued on Monday to deputy commissioners of Chandel, Tengnoupal, Ukhrul,Churachandpur and Kamjong.
Myanmar citizens living in India hold placards during a protest against the military coup in Myanmar, in New Delhi.(Reuters)
Myanmar citizens living in India hold placards during a protest against the military coup in Myanmar, in New Delhi.(Reuters)
Updated on Mar 31, 2021 01:47 AM IST
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By, Guwahati

The Manipur government has withdrawn its earlier order directing authorities in districts bordering Myanmar to “politely turn away” refugees fleeing the neighbouring country where the military seized power last month.

A fresh letter by H Gyan Prakash, special secretary (home), government of Manipur, was issued on Monday to deputy commissioners of Chandel, Tengnoupal, Ukhrul,Churachandpur and Kamjong.

“The fresh letter was issued on Monday which directed the deputy commissioners in four districts to disregard the earlier letter issued on March 26,” Prakash said over phone from Imphal.

In an advisory issued on March 26, Prakash’s office initially directed authorities and civil society groups not to open camps to provide food and shelter to refugees fleeing the neighbouring nation. It also asked them to immediately stop the Aadhaar enrolment exercise in the state, suggesting that there was the possibility of some of the refugees signing up for Aadhaar numbers.

“People trying to enter/seek refuge should be politely turned away,” the initial advisory read.

It added that in case of “grievous injuries” sustained by Myanmar nationals, medical attention “may be provided on humanitarian considerations”.

Also read | Myanmar insurgents sense growing conflict, call for international intervention

Monday’s advisory, however, claimed that the earlier one was misinterpreted and that the Manipur government has been providing all aid to Myanmar nationals who entered India via the borders with the state.

Prakash too maintained that the Manipur government has been taking all necessary humanitarian steps, including ferrying some of the injured refugees to the state capital for treatment.

In order to avoid further misunderstanding, the earlier directive has been withdrawn, the advisory released on Monday said.

According to AFP, at least 520 people, including women and children, have been killed across Myanmar in the last one month. The military seized power on February 1 over alleged election irregularities following Aung San Suu Kyi-led NLD’s landslide victory in the general polls.

On March 10, the Ministry of Home Affairs wrote to the chief secretaries of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and the Assam Rifles guarding the Indo-Myanmar border, to check the influx of people from Myanmar and also to identify the illegal migrants and deport them.

The Mizoram government, however, refused to turn away the Myanmar nationals. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 18, Chief Minister Zoramthanga said that since the people of his state shared ethnic ties with the refugees of the Chin community of Myanmar, they cannot remain indifferent to their plight.

According to officials in Mizoram, at least 1,000 Myanmar nationals have entered the state since the coup last month, news agency PTI reported .

“As per the home department’s record, 1,042 Myanmarese nationals have entered the state till Monday. While most of them are staying in border villages and are being provided with relief and shelter by local NGOs, some are living with their relatives,” an official told the news agency.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is an assistant editor based in Guwahati. He covers all eight states of North-East and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times .

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Thursday, January 20, 2022