Myanmar coup | Photo courtesy: BBC

Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga has urged prime minister Narendra Modi to provide asylum, food and shelter to those refugees who have arrived in the state since the military seized power in Myanmar in February.

CM Zoramthanga, in a letter to PM Modi, sought his intervention so that the refugees from Myanmar are given asylum, food and shelter in India.

Referring to Union home ministry’s advisories to the chief secretaries of the four Northeast states bordering Myanmar and also to the Assam Rifles and Border Security Forces for taking action to prevent illegal influx from Myanmar into India, Zoramthanga said: “This is not acceptable to Mizoram.”

“I understand there are certain foreign policy issues where India needs to proceed cautiously. However, we cannot ignore this humanitarian crisis,” the chief minister said in his letter.

He added that the Mizoram’s Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs met the external affairs minister S Jaishankar on March 16 and vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu on March 15 and discussed the issue during the Parliament session.

Zoramthanga said in his letter that India as the largest democracy in the world and Myanmar’s immediate neighbour needs to do more and open up more in this matter.

Amid the government tightening the security along the India-Myanmar border to prevent influx from across the border, Zoramthanga on March 21 held a virtual meeting with Myanmar’s foreign minister Zin Mar Aung.

Zoramthanga, after holding the discussion with Aung, tweeted: “Had a fruitful meeting this morning with Zin Mar Aung, foreign minister, Myanmar. Our thoughts and prayers are with Myanmar in these trying times.”

Mizoram government officials, when contacted by news agency IANS, said that they were not in a position to disclose the discussion between the chief minister and Myanmar minister.

According to Mizoram’s Rajya Sabha member K Vanlalvena, over 300 Myanmar nationals including 150 police personnel besides women and children, have crossed the border are currently taking shelter in Mizoram.

Local people and officials said that the number of refugees from Myanmar took shelter in Mizoram since March 3 had already crossed over 400.

Officials in Aizawl said that a Mizoram government team at the instruction of chief minister Zoramthanga on March 19 urged Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai to provide relief to the people sheltered in the bordering state after fleeing from the neighbouring military coup-hit Myanmar.

“While ruling out the possibility of deporting these refugees until situation in Myanmar gets back to normal, members of the team requested the central government’s intervention for providing necessary relief measures to refugees staying in Mizoram and expressed hope that India will take a more proactive role and raise a stronger voice in support of people fighting for restoration of democracy in Myanmar,” said a statement.

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