TODAY -

Lessons to learn from Mizoram : Need to identify them
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: July 19, 2022 -



At least Mizoram is in a position to officially spell out the number of Myanmar refugees taking shelter in the State.

30,316 including 11,798 children and 10,047 women is the figure trotted out by a Government official in the North Eastern State and here is a case of a Government knowing what it ought and should do.

The figure of 30,316 may not include all the refugees who have fled to Mizoram following the take over by the military in Myanmar but at least an official figure is being maintained and this has been made possible following the decision of the Government of Mizoram to house the incoming refugees.

Aizawl has also looked beyond merely working out the number of refugees but has gone ahead and issued them identity cards, so that at least the local authorities there know who is a refugee and who is a genuine citizen of Mizoram.

It does not need political genius to work out that refugees from the neighbouring country would come knocking at the doors of the North Eastern States which share a long, porous border with Myanmar and keeping them out would have been next to impossible.

The most practical course of action before the Government of Mizoram was then to open refugee camps, identify the refugees and keep a tab on their movements. This is taking cognizance of the ground reality.

Moreover remember the people of Mizoram and the Myanmarese who have entered the State as refugees are kindred tribes, a line which was maintained by the Government of Mizoram and underlined in a communication from Chief Minister Zoramthanga to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as early as March in 2021.

Mizoram could not accept the advisory of the Union Home Ministry not to provide shelter to Myanmar refugees and instead send them back to the neighbouring country is one such stand maintained by Aizawl.

"Mizoram could not be indifferent to the suffering of the Chin communities in Myanmar's border, who are of the same ethnicity," was the line maintained by Zoramthanga in his communication to the Centre.

Here is a case of a State Government spelling out where it stands and doing what it deems is the best thing to do.

Issue them identity cards, so that at least the movement of the refugees may be monitored and they do not merge with the local population, is a line that may be read into the latest move of the Government of Mizoram to issue them identity cards.

The ID would not entitle the Myanmarese to any Government assistance available to the citizens of India (Mizoram), but here is a mechanism to keep a close tab on the movement of the refugees.

A move which must be noted by other North Eastern States which share a long border with Myanmar.

On June 28, police rounded up 80 Myanmar refugees taking shelter at Churachandpur. 80 identified and rounded up. This is the official figure and this could just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

It is Churachandpur at the moment, but how about the border town of Moreh ? Can the Government agencies be in a position to monitor the movement of the people who may have come from across the border ?

This is a question which is best left to the Government to answer, but remember the State Cabinet has already decided to set the base year of the Inner Liner Permit System at 1961, though this has not gone down well with the JCILPS which wants 1951 as the base year, and this rings out the message that Imphal is intent on checking illegal migration to the State.

It may not be possible to stop the fleeing Myanmarese from "entering the State and the next best option should be to monitor their movement and take up steps to ensure that they do not enter silently and then merge with the local population to pass off as indigenous folks years later.

The military took over in Myanmar in February 2021 and in over one year the chances of refugees streaming into Manipur on the sly cannot be ruled out at all.

Remember a large number of people of Churachandpur and Moreh share filial ties with the people of Myanmar and as pointed out by Zoramthanga in his communication to the Prime Minister, expecting the people to be indifferent to the plight of their brethrens at Myanmar would amount to asking for the moon.

Better to be pratical and acknowledge edge the reality.



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