Assam Rifles steps up vigil at Myanmar border to check migrant influx

The security scale-up comes days after Mizoram’s ruling party demanded refugee status for the migrants, a move opposed by Centre

Protestors hold placards displaying pictures of ousted leader Aung-San-Suu-Kyu. File Photo

The Mizoram government and the Centre don’t appear on the same page over the influx of people from Myanmar since a military in that country. In an apparent worsening of Centre-state divergence, the paramilitary Assam Rifles is reportedly conducting round-the-clock patrols to check the flow of refugees.

The ruling Mizo National Front headed by Zoramthanga conveyed to the Centre last week that the inhabitants living on the Myanmar side belong the Chin tribe, considered “brethren” on the Indian side. The Mizoram government should extend shelter and food for the migrants fleeing that country after the coup, the CM said, adding those people should be considered refugees.

The MNF has extended issue-based support to the NDA government.

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Also read: Centre, Mizoram govt on collision path over sheltering Myanmar refugees

The Centre had instructed the northeastern states to step up vigil against the migrants, adding that it was beyond any state’s powers to extend a refugee status.

The Assam Rifles, guarding around 500-km border in that part of the country, has presented its own problems, saying given the state government’s stance, it would be difficult to have “working relations” with it vis-à-vis the migrant influx.

India and Myanmar have a free movement regime (FMR) that allows people in border villages to trade and move freely up to 16 km inside each other’s territory. The FMR was suspended last year due to COVID-19.

Also read: Myanmar gags media amid internal crisis; protesters defy curfew

Sources in the Assam Rifles said the suspension has led to more illegal movement of goods. “There is not much movement at the border at present,” said a source. “We are manning all the crossing points along the border 24×7,” said a source in the paramilitary force.

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