New Delhi: The Manipur police have detained 10 Myanmar nationals for illegally entering India without valid documents. They have been undergoing treatment at Churachandpur district hospital for bullet injuries.
The news has caused alarm in the security establishment of Manipur, which is already experiencing large-scale violence over the last two months. However, officials confirmed that they are in no way connected to ongoing ethnic clashes in the state, Tribune reported.
Officials further said that they have been undergoing treatment at the hospital since April 20, even before violence broke out in the state.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Assam Rifles stated that speculation about their involvement in the ongoing Manipur violence was fake.
“Numerous posts of a ‘purported leaked document’ of casualties of Myanmar nationals being treated in India are being spread. It mentioned that a total of 16 people (including 08 Indian nationals who were essentially the drivers or passengers, one Myanmarese translator and seven Myanmarese injured civilians, reportedly from violence in their own country) were intercepted by Assam Rifles on June 15, 16 and 21, 2023 at Yangoubung, Chandel district,” said a statement issued by Assam Rifles.
They were actually intercepted by Assam Rifles at the border and were permitted to enter India, as they were facing a medical emergency. As a matter of government policy, India has been allowing Myanmarese to avail treatment in India in the case of a medical emergency, given that there is trouble in Myanmar due to junta rule.
According to official estimates, over 40,000 people from Myanmar have been living in Mizoram and Manipur as refugees since the military coup in the neighbouring country in February 2021.
In fact, India and Myanmar have a free movement regime (FMR) in place within 16 kms on both sides of the border. However, this has been temporarily suspended by the Manipur government due to the ongoing violence in the state.
Churachandpur Police said the detained Myanmarese would be deported back once their treatment gets over. According to Northeast Now, the detained persons are from Tamu town in Northeastern Myanmar.
As The Wire reported earlier, several political leaders from Manipur’s Meitei community have accused Myanmarese military groups of supporting violence in Manipur against persons belonging to their community.
The Kuki majority areas of Manipur share a porous border with Myanmar’s Chin state. The Kukis and Mizos share a common ancestry with the Chins of Myanmar and inhabit that contiguous landmass across the international border.
On June 15, Myanmar’s government-in-exile, the National Unity Government (NUG), asked Myanmarese citizens, who have been “temporarily sheltering” in India due to the military crackdown in that country, to stay away from local political matters and ethnic-based conflicts.
The NUG government’s advisory to the displaced citizens is significant because it comes at a time when Manipur’s majority Meitei community is claiming involvement of Myanmarese nationals in their ongoing clash with the Kuki community of the state.
Note: This article was originally published at 11:05 am on July 12, 2023 and republished at 10:45 pm on the same day.