SEEKS SHELTER FOR KUKI-CHIN REFUGEES FROM BANGLADESH
Hundreds of people on Monday staged demonstration near the Raj Bhavan here demanding that the Centre provide asylum and relief to the Kuki-Chin tribals of Bangladesh, who have taken refuge in Mizoram following violence in Chittagong Hill Tract.
The Kuki-Chin community people share close ethnic ties with the Mizos.
Besides common people, several MLAs from the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) including ministers R Lalzirliana and Robert Romawia, and opposition parties also joined the demonstration, responding to a call of an influential civil society organisation, Central Young Mizo Association (CYMA).
A total of 388 people, including 133 minors, from Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) have taken refuge in south Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district since November last year, following the alleged military offensive against an ethnic insurgent group by the Bangladesh army, an official said. The state government, NGOs and villagers provided temporary shelters, food and other basic needs to the Bangladeshi nationals on humanitarian grounds, he added.
Addressing the demonstrators, CYMA President R Lalngheta urged the Centre to provide asylum and relief to the ethnic Mizo asylum seekers on humanitarian grounds. The organisation’s General Secretary Prof Lalnuntluanga also requested the Centre to provide shelter to them as it had done to Afghans, Tibetans and other Bangladeshi refugees in the past.
The CYMA on Monday also wrote a letter to Union Home Secretary asking for refuge for the Kuki-Chin people in India.
The letter claimed that one elderly person, while trying to enter India from Bangladesh, died on January 4 as he had no food or water. “… it is our sincere request to look into the matter on humanitarian grounds and to take urgent steps to stop pushing back our brethren who have sought temporary refuge in our state for their immediate safety,” the CYMA said in the letter. Mizoram shares a 318-km-long border with Bangladesh.
The northeastern state has also been hosting nearly 40,000 refugees from Myanmar, who fled their homes since the military took over the reins in a coup in February 2021.