The Manipur government has ordered Assam Rifles to “push back” 718 Myanmar nationals, including 301 children, who reportedly entered the state on July 22 and 23 due to the ongoing unrest in the neighboring country. The government has also sought a report on “why and how” the nationals were allowed to enter India without proper documents.
On July 23, 28 Sector Assam Rifles wrote to the deputy commissioner of Manipur’s Chandel district reporting a “fresh illegal influx” of Myanmar nationals along the Indo-Myanmar border in Chandel. According to the Assam Rifles report, the 718 people arrived at six locations in the district over the two days because of ongoing clashes in Khampat in western Myanmar.
Of these, 301 are children, 208 are women and 209 are men. In the letter, Assam Rifles requested the deputy commissioner to send a representative for “joint verification” of the immigrants.
In response, the Manipur home department sought a detailed report from Assam Rifles to “clarify why and how” the Myanmar nationals “were allowed to enter into India in Chandel District without proper travel documents”.
“In connection with similar issues in the past, state government had clearly informed Assam Rifles, being Border Guarding Force, to take strict action to prevent entry of Myanmar nationals into Manipur on any ground without valid visa/travel documents as per instruction of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India,” read a statement from the home department.
The state government has issued instructions to the Assam Rifles to “push back” the Myanmar nationals “immediately”, stating that it views the influx “very seriously” and that it may have “international ramifications more particularly in view of the ongoing law and order issue”.
Claims of large-scale “illegal immigration” from Myanmar have been among the most common refrains among the Meitei community during its ongoing clashes with the Kuki-Zomi community in the state, which shares an ethnic bond with the Chins of Myanmar. Accusations by Chief Minister Biren Singh of Kukis in Churachandpur district sheltering immigrants from Myanmar had also been a source of discontent among the Kuki community in the run-up to the violence.
There are more than 35,000 refugees from Myanmar in Mizoram, who have been sheltered by the state government there despite instructions by the central government not to do so. The Manipur government, on the other hand, has been trying to implement a drive against “illegal immigrants” and has constituted a Population Commission to identify them.