Aizawl/New Delhi, March 22: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide asylum, food and shelter to those refugees who have arrived in the state since the military seized power in Myanmar last month.
Zoramthanga in a letter to Modi sought his intervention so that the refugees from Myanmar are given asylum, food and shelter in India.
Referring to Union Home Ministry’s advisories to the Chief Secretaries of the four northeastern states bordering Myanmar and also to the Assam Rifles and Border Security Forces for taking action to prevent illegal influx from Myanmar into India, Zoramthanga said, “This is not acceptable to Mizoram.”
“I understand there are certain foreign policy issues where India needs to proceed cautiously. However, we cannot ignore this humanitarian crisis,” the Chief Minister said in his letter.
He added that the Mizoram’s Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs met the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday and Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday and discussed the issue during the Parliament session.
Zoramthanga said in his letter that India as the largest democracy in the world and Myanmar’s immediate neighbour needs to do more and open up more in this matter.
Amid the government tightening the security along the India-Myanmar border to prevent influx from across the border, Zoramthanga on Sunday held a virtual meeting with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung.
Zoramthanga after holding the discussion with Aung, tweeted: “Had a fruitful meeting this morning with Zin Mar Aung, Foreign Minister, Myanmar. Our thoughts and prayers are with Myanmar in these trying times.”
Mizoram government officials when contacted by the IANS said that they are not in a position to disclose the discussion between the Chief Minister and Myanmar Minister.
Mizoram government delegations comprising state’s Member of Parliament and senior leader of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) had already met separately with Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M.Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and others in Delhi and persuade them to impress upon the government not to forcefully push back the Myanmar nationals sheltered in Mizoram.
According to Mizoram’s Rajya Sabha member K.Vanlalvena over 300 Myanmar nationals including 150 police personnel besides women and children have crossed the border are currently taking shelter in Mizoram.
Local people and officials said that the number of refugees from Myanmar took shelter in Mizoram since March 3 had already crossed over 400.
Officials in Aizawl said that the Mizoram government team at the instruction of Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Friday urged the Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai to provide relief to the people sheltered in the bordering state after fleeing from the neighbouring military coup-hit Myanmar.
“While ruling out the possibility of deporting these refugees until situation in Myanmar gets back to normal, members of the team requested the central government’s intervention for providing necessary relief measures to refugees staying in Mizoram and expressed hope that India will take a more proactive role and raise a stronger voice in support of people fighting for restoration of democracy in Myanmar,” said a Mizoram official statement.
The four-member team comprising Mizoram’s Lok Sabha C.Lalrosanga, Rajya Sabha member K.Vanlalvena, the State Planning Board Vice-Chairman H.Rammawi and Mizo National Front Adviser Rosangzuala, also made similar appeal to the Union Home Secretary. AVanlalvena while discussing the matter in the Rajya Sabha last week urged the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to consider the plight of the people protesting against the military rule in Myanmar and relax its policy towards Myanmar refugees crossing over to India.
Mizoram statement’s further said that the state government and NGOs in Mizoram have been providing immediate help and shelter to these refugees.
Meanwhile, the MHA had recently given directions to the chief secretaries of four northeastern states — Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur — sharing borders with Myanmar to not entertain Myanmar refugees. It also instructed Assam Rifles to seal the border and prevent entry from the neighbouring country, the statement said.
Mizoram government official said that the Deputy Secretary (NE), MHA, Krishna Mohan Uppu, in his letter said that the Ministry’s Foreigners’ Division had also issued instructions to the chief secretaries on February 28 for asking law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take prompt steps for identifying illegal migrants, their restrictions to specific locations as per provisions of law, capturing their biographic and biometrics particulars, cancellation of fake Indian documents and legal proceedings, including initiation of deportation.
The letter, available with IANS, reiterated that the state governments and UT administrations have no power to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner and India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.The four northeastern states share a 1,643 km unfenced border with Myanmar.
A one-year state of emergency has been declared in Myanmar where power has been transferred to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing after President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were detained by the military on February 1.