Myanmar refugee issue: Mizoram Cong backs MNF govt, says MHA order to stop influx unacceptable

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Aizawl, Mar 25 (PTI) The opposition Congress in Mizoram on Thursday backed Chief Minister Zoramthanga on the issue of Myanmarese nationals taking refuge in the state and said that the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to stop illegal migration of people from that country is unacceptable.

State Congress president and five-time former chief minister Lal Thanhawla said that though the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) is an ally of the BJP, he wants the party to disobey the MHA order which also directed four Northeastern states to ensure speedy deportation of the refugees.

The MNF is a part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the regional version of the NDA. However, the two parties do not work together in the state.

The senior Congress leader's statement came a week after Zoramthanga said that the MHA order is 'not acceptable' and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide them asylum on humanitarian grounds.

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

Mizoram shares a 510 km long porous border with Myanmar's Chin state and most of the Myanmarese nationals who have taken refuge in the state belong to the Chin, also known as the Zo, community. They share the same ancestry and culture as the Mizos of Mizoram.

'I condemn toppling of the democratically elected government and gross violation of human rights by the military in Myanmar,' Lal Thanhawla said in a statement.

Hundreds of people have been killed in pro-democracy protests in the neighbouring country, he said.

The former chief minister urged the state government to provide food and shelter to Myanmarese nationals and also extend support to the NGOs that are helping those who have taken refuge in the state.

The Congress leader extended support to the people of Myanmar in their fight to restore democracy and regretted the deaths of the Chin people, who were killed in pro-democracy protests.

He also paid rich tributes to all the Myanmarese citizens, who laid down their lives in the efforts to bring back democracy in the neighbouring country.

A senior government official told PTI that more than 800 Myanmarese people have entered Mizoram to take refuge after the military coup.

On March 10, the MHA wrote to the chief secretaries of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and the Assam Rifles guarding the Indo-Myanmar border, to check influx of people from that country and also to identify the illegal migrants and deport them.

Zoramthanga, who is also the chief of the ruling MNF, has said that 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.

In a letter to Modi on March 18, the CM also sought his personal intervention for providing asylum to the political refugees on humanitarian grounds. PTI COR NN NN