Updated: September 13, 2021 9:51:16 pm
A fresh wave of violence on Friday in a part of Myanmar, which is close to the Mizoram border, has led to a renewed exodus of refugees into the northeastern state, authorities said. As per official state government data accessed by The Indian Express, 1,546 refugees have entered two districts of Mizoram — Hnahthial and Champhai — between Friday and Monday.
An official from the state’s home department said that “new influx” has been reported in the past two days after a military camp was attacked in a Myanmar village, close to Thingsai, the nearest border village in Mizoram’s Hnahthial district, in the wee hours of Friday.
News agency PTI reported that the fresh violence began after the supporters of the Burmese government-in-exile, National Unity Government (NUG), which had called for a nationwide uprising last week, clashed in a fierce gunfight with the military junta’s forces in a village in Myanmar, very close to Mizoram.
The Myanmarese NUG has been formed by elected legislators who were ousted by the military.
According to the official report, 278 refugees had come into Champhai district, while 1,268 refugees had entered Hnahthial district. In Thingsai, which is close to the border, there are at least 720 refugees currently taking shelter.
According to a district administration official in Hnahthial, the new refugees were camping in makeshift shelters. “The Young Mizo Association (YMA) and other civil society groups have been helping them on humanitarian grounds,” the official said, adding, “Even before Friday’s incident, there were about 700 of them in different parts of our district. They are being accommodated by village councils in 6-7 villages.”
The official further said that they had received reports that the firing happened “very close” to Thingsai. “Locals reported that they could hear the sound of firing and bombing,” the official said.
As many as 9,450 refugees — which included about 20 Myanmarese legislators —were taking refuge across 10 districts of Mizoram on September 1. The number has now risen to 11,065 after Friday’s incident. Official sources said that the number was expected to further go up.
Mizoram shares a 510km-long international border with Myanmar.
Since March, after the military junta staged a coup in Myanmar, thousands of refugees from the Chin state have crossed over the border into Mizoram. While the Centre had ordered that borders be closed to Myanmar refugees, the Mizoram National Front (MNF) government led by Zoramthanga had welcomed them as “fellow brethren” since they share common tribal lineage and “deep ethnic bonds”.
Earlier this month, the Mizoram government said that children of migrant or refugee Myanmar nationals, currently taking shelter in Mizoram after fleeing the military coup, can now be admitted to schools in the state.
According to the Home department official, the new refugees were being strictly screened for Covid-19. “Many of them may be camping near the border areas since we are being careful about Covid screening. Until the medical teams clear them of Covid, we cannot let them enter as Mizoram is also facing a rise in cases,” the official said.
26 Myanmar nationals arrested in Guwahati
Meanwhile, Assam Police on Sunday arrested 26 suspected Myanmar nationals, including 10 women, for reportedly carrying fake Indian documents. The arrests were made at a lodge in Guwahati.
As per a release, the group had been carrying forged Aadhaar and voter cards, which were made in Mizoram. “Upon interrogation, it was found that the apprehended people were citizens of Chin state of Myanmar and were on their way to Delhi to study Bible (theology). From their possession, forged Indian documents, such as Aadhaar card, voter id, which were made in Mizoram, have been recovered,” the release said.
A case has been registered in the Paltan Bazar Police station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920, among others.
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