Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Illegal Myanmar immigrants set up settlements in Manipur: Report

A report by a sub-committee of the Manipur Cabinet has revealed that 2,187 illegal immigrants from Myanmar have set up settlements in 41 locations in four districts.

The sub-committee is headed by Tribal Affairs and Hill Development Minister Letpao Haokip.

The report said that the highest number of 1,147 Myanmar nationals were currently residing in Tengnoupal, followed by 881 in Chandel, 154 in Churachandpur and five in Kamjong.

The sub-committee, whose members also include state Ministers Awangbow Newmai and Thounaojam Basanta, visited the tribal dominated districts in March and April, during which they met the illegal immigrants, and spoke to them about providing humanitarian relief and shelters.

Before the ethnic violence broke out on May 3, the Manipur government had decided to identify the Myanmar national who had earlier sought asylum in the state, and keep them at the designated detention centres.

Around 5,000 immigrants, including women and children, have fled from the conflict-hit Myanmar, after the military took power in February 2021.

Haokip is one of the 10 tribal MLAs who has called for a separate administration following the outbreak of the ethnic violence on May 3.

Among the 10 MLAs, seven, including Haokip, belong to the BJP.

Last week, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that infiltrators from across the border and militants have caused the ongoing unrest in the state and it is not an enmity between two communities.

Manipur shares around 400 km unfenced border with Myanmar.

An official report said that the identification of such a large number of illegal immigrants in the first phase itself has become a reason for panic amongst the illegal immigrants settled in the state.

“During the identification drive, it was observed that the illegal Myanmary immigrants had established their own village. It was during this identification exercise where the establishment of such villages was objected to and they were advised that shelter homes will be built by the government for them. The illegal immigrants have raised strong objections to the proposal and it is one of the reasons for the violence that broke out recently,” said the report, available with IANS.

The report said that the Manipur government’s ‘War on Drugs’ campaign has badly affected the poppy cultivation and narcotics business run by the Myanmar nationals in the state.

Due to this reason, the recent violence in Manipur was fueled by influential illegal poppy cultivators and drug lords from Myanmar settling in Manipur, it stated.

Various Kuki Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been alleging that the Manipur government, in the name of trying to identify illegal immigrants, has been harassing Indian citizens. Kukis say they have been living in the hills of Manipur for decades, and even fought against the British in what is now known as the Anglo-Kuki War (1917-1919).

“The BJP government led by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh only wants to brand genuine Indian Kuki tribes as illegal immigrants,” Kuki CSOs have alleged on a number of occasions.

The state was devastated by the ethnic violence between the valley-majority Meitei and the hill-majority Kuki tribe, killing over 120 people and injuring over 400 people of different communities.


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