20 cross over from coup-hit Myanmar, seek refuge in Mizoram

Some are said to be policemen who were under pressure to obey orders they could not execute

At least 20 people, including some security personnel, have crossed to Mizoram from military coup-hit Myanmar and have sought refuge in India.

Border residents in Champhai and Serchhip districts claimed at least 50 people from Myanmar have crossed over since March 3. All belong to the Chin ethnic group, to which the Mizo community of Mizoram belongs.

There have been no reports yet from Hnahtial, Lawngtlai and Siaha, the other three districts bordering Myanmar.

Serchhip’s SP Stephen Lalrinawma hasbeen quoted as saying some of those who sought refuge were security personnel and they had escaped because of their inabilityto follow certain instructions.

“We cannot confirm right now whether or not they are policemen. Three people crossed over yesterday [Wednesday] and some more came today. They have been put up at a community hall in Lungkawlh village after the mandatory COVID-19 tests,” Serchhip’s Deputy Commissioner Kumar Abhishek told The Hindu.

The village is about 8 km from the border with Myanmar. India shares a 1,643-km land border with Myanmar where at least 50 people have died since the military coup on February 1.

Food and shelter

“We are providing food and shelter to the people. We have also sent a report to the Home Department and are awaiting instructions on what to do with the refugees,” Mr. Abhishek said.

His Champhai counterpart Maria C.T. Zuali said four people had crossed over into her district on Thursday afternoon.

“I heard more people had crossed over to other districts but I don’t have the details,” she said.

People from Myanmar’s Chin community and the Mizos belong to the Zo ethnic group and they share the ancestry. The Chin people are concentrated in Myanmar’s Chin State, which shares a 404-km porous border with Mizoram.

Claiming that the people have been affected by the civil unrest, the Mizo Students’ Union in Mizoram had in February appealed to the State government seeking political asylum for them. But the government said it did not receive any request for asylum.

“So far, none has applied to us seeking political sanctuary or political asylum. If at all there is a request, we will take a decision. It has to be ratified by the Centre since the issue concerns two countries,” Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said.

Chin National Army’s appeal

The Chin National Army, an ethnic extremist group in Myanmar, had in February approached village authorities in Champhai district seeking shelter for the Chin people. The matter was subsequently broughtto the notice of the State government.

Thousands of Chin people have migrated to Manipur and Mizoram over the last 40 years.

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