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Manipur Government Withdraws Order to “Politely Turn Away” Myanmar Refugees

Manipur Government Withdraws Order to “Politely Turn Away” Myanmar Refugees

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 30: The Manipur government has reversed its earlier decision not to allow the refugees from neighbouring riot-torn Myanmar from entering the state withdrawing its last week’s official order.

In a letter to the district authorities bordering with Myanmar, the government had issued instructions to “politely turn away” the Myanmar nationals trying to cross the border and enter into India, except providing medical assistants “on humanitarian grounds” if found injured. The officials were clearly instructed not to set up any camps for the Myanmar nationals and provide them shelter and food.

“District administration should not open any camps to provide food and shelter. The civil society organisations should also not be allowed to open any camps to provide shelter/food,” the circular, which came into public domain on Monday, said.
The directive was issued a day after three Myanmar nationals with bullet wounds were evacuated to Moreh sub-divisional hospital, the last border town of India. The injured were later brought to Imphal for treatment. They were reportedly referred from Tamu district, Myanmar and currently receiving treatment in hospitals in Imphal.

“It appears that the contents of the letter have been misconstrued and interpreted differently. The State government has been taking all humanitarian steps had recently taken all steps, including taking them to Imphal, to treat the injured Myanmarese nationals. The State government continues to provide all aid,” said H. Gyan Prakash, Special Secretary (Home) in Manipur government in the letter dated March 29.

“In order to avoid this misunderstanding I am directed to convey the decision of the government that it has decided to withdraw the letter dated 26.03.2021 mentioned above,” Prakash added.

In the letter dated March 26 to the Deputy Commissioners of five districts bordering Myanmar, Chandel, Tengnoupal, Kamjong, Ukhrul, and Churachandpur, Prakash had said in case of grievous injuries, medical attention may be provided on “humanitarian considerations” and also directed that Aadhaar enrolment “should be stopped immediately and Aadhaar enrolment kits taken into safe custody.”

The officials had been asked to submit an ‘action taken report’ on the matter by today.

The letter drew sharp reactions from various sections on social media with many dubbing it inhuman and going against India’s long-cherished tradition of hospitality.

Withdrawing the order, the Home department yesterday wrote again to the same officials on the matter.

Neighbouring State Mizoram which shares a 510-km border with Myanmar has been at odds with the Centre on the treatment of Myanmar nationals seeking refuge in India. Initially, the Mizoram government had issued guidelines directing officials to provide shelter to those crossing over following the coup on February1.

The guidelines were withdrawn based on directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the MHA issued guidelines in this regard to all States bordering Myanmar.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga had recently written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to provide shelter to the Myanmar nationals forced to cross into India saying a “human catastrophe of gigantic proportions” was unfolding in the neighbouring country and innocent citizens are being killed by the military which was supposed to protect them.

He had dubbed as “not acceptable” the Centre’s order to prevent illegal immigration from Myanmar and ensure speedy deportation of refugees.

Myanmar’s Ambassador to the United Nations had earlier appealed to India and the various governments of its states bordering the country to provide shelter to refugees given the humanitarian crisis unfolding there.

India has been expecting refugees from Myanmar ever since the neighbouring country’s military junta opened fire on protesting civilians in nine regions of the country on Friday, killing scores of people, including children.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up along the Indo-Myanmar border with police and Assam Rifles constantly on the vigil.



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