Mizoram CM writes to Modi, wants asylum for Myanmar refugees

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(Eds: Upgrades, recasts intro, headline) Aizawl, Mar 20 (PTI) Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has called 'not acceptable' the Centre's order to prevent illegal immigration from Myanmar and ensure speedy deportation of refugees, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide them asylum on humanitarian grounds, an official said on Saturday.

Hundreds of refugees, including many policemen, have arrived in Mizoram since the military seized power in Myanmar last month.

Zoramthanga said since the people of his state share ethnic ties with the refugees of the Chin community of Myanmar, they cannot remain indifferent to their plight.

Zoramthanga, also the chief of the ruling MNF, wrote a letter to Modi on March 18 and sought his personal intervention for providing asylum to the political refugees on humanitarian grounds, an official at the Chief Minister's Office said.

He said the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) March 10 advisory to Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur was not acceptable to his state.

Though the MNF is a part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), it does not have an alliance with the saffron party in the state.

'This (MHA advisory) is not acceptable to Mizoram. I understand that there are certain foreign policy issues where India needs to proceed cautiously. However, we cannot ignore this humanitarian crisis,' Zoramthanga said in the letter, a copy of which is available with PTI.

He said the areas in Myanmar bordering Mizoram are inhabited by the people of Chin community who share ethnic ties and have had close contact with the people of the state even before India became Independent.

Zoramthanga said a 'human catastrophe of gigantic proportions' is happening in Myanmar and innocent citizens are being killed by the military, which is supposed to protect them.

Every day, terrified Myanmarese people are struggling to cross over into Mizoram in search of shelter and protection, he said.

'Therefore, Mizoram cannot just remain indifferent to their sufferings. India cannot turn a blind eye to this humanitarian crisis unfolding right in front of us in our own backyard,' the letter read.

Zoramthanga said that India, as the world's largest democracy and Myanmar's immediate neighbour, must act in this matter.

Meanwhile, Mizoram Rajya Sabha member K Vanlalvena told PTI that the number of Myanmarese refugees taking shelter in the northeastern state has soared to over 1,000.

An officer in the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), however, citing official records said a total of 547 Myanmarese nationals have entered Mizoram since the coup on February 1.

He said that the actual number may be higher as many Mizoram residents have given shelter to Myanmarese refugees without informing the authorities.

Myanmarese people fleeing the coup have taken shelter in eight districts and most of them are being handled by local NGOs, he said.

Several outfits, including the state's apex student body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), are raising money to support the refugees. PTI COR ACD SK SK