In recent news, the Manipur government has withdrawn a previous order that explicitly instructed local authorities to not set up food and shelter camps for Myanmar citizens seeking refuge and entering India due to the turmoil of events in their state.
This order by the Biren Singh government received a lot of criticism as it acted against the Indian ideals of hospitality and was portrayed as inhuman.
Hence, on March 29th this order was withdrawn by the state government who wrote about the same to the officials.
"It appears that the contents of the letter have been misconstrued and interpreted differently...In order to avoid this misunderstanding I am directed to convey the decision of the government that it has decided to withdraw the letter dated 26.03.2021 mentioned above," said H Gyan Prakash, who is the Special Home Secretary to the state government.
"The government has been taking all humanitarian steps...including taking them (refugees) to Imphal, to treat the injured Myanmarese nationals. The state government continues to provide all aid," he wrote.
What did the previous order say against the refugees?
Sent out on March 26th, the order asked border officials to "politely turn away" those Myanmar citizens coming to India for refuge purposes. "District administration should not open any camps to provide food and shelter. The civil society organizations should also not be allowed to open any camps to provide shelter/food", the order said.
Further, the deputy commissioners of five districts namely- Chandel, Tengnoupal, Kamjong, Ukhrul, and Churachandpur were also asked to ensure that Aadhar enrolment was put to a stop immediately and the kits used in the process were taken in safe custody.
This 'confidential' letter stated that exceptions can be only made on humanitarian considerations' where situations of grievous injuries persist.
With the military coup and security crackdown in Myanmar on Feb 1st, 2020, India has witnessed several people feeling across the borders since then due to a state of restlessness. Last Friday, according to police sources three Myanmar nationals with serious bullet injuries were admitted to a hospital in northeast India. The police further said that about a dozen people from Myanmar moved into Manipur last Thursday post the firing by Myanmarese forces in the border town of Tamu. They were provided shelter in the Indian border town of Moreh and were hospitalized. However, a day later eight Myanmar nationals were sent back to their homeland.
Meanwhile, Mizoram, the neighbouring state of Manipur has actively accepted to aid people from Myanmar, with the Zoramthanga stating that it was the duty of his government to provide food and shelter to people from Myanmar. Thus, over 1000 Myanmar nations have been reported to enter Mizoram.
What is the military Coup in Myanmar?
On February 1, the democratic government in Myanmar was overthrown by the military, and the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy were detained. This event was followed by an election dispute over Suu Kyi’s victory in November, where the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party alleged that the National League for Democracy won through fraudulent practices. Thus, several protests have broken out in the country post the coup, and the military has also retaliated with firing, internet cuts, and curfews.
With the country battling such gruesome violence and a total situation of chaos, Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Nations had earlier requested India and the various governments of its states bordering the country to assist refugees and provide shelter as a result of the humanitarian crisis dawning the country.
The situation intensely peaked when security forces on March 27th killed more than 100 people marking it to be one of the bloodiest days of agitation against the military’s takeover. This event of violence has triggered outrage and alerted several across the world about the vulnerable situations of Myanmar citizens.