Mizoram defies central directive, refuses to collect biometric data of Myanmar refugeestext_fields
Aizawl: The Mizoram government has refused to comply with the Central government's order to collect biometric data from refugees from Myanmar within the state.
This decision comes in direct contravention of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs' orders, issued in April of this year, which mandated the governments of Mizoram and Manipur, both bordering Myanmar, to gather biometric and biographic information from what it termed as "illegal immigrants" within their respective territories.
In June, these states were further instructed to complete this campaign by the end of September and formulate a plan to commence the process.
Despite these directives, the Mizoram government, headed by Chief Minister Zoramthanga's Mizo National Front (MNF), has stated that it will not engage in the collection of biometric data from the refugees, as reported by The Indian Express.
Mizoram has welcomed refugees fleeing the Myanmar military crackdown, consistently disregarding the Central government's orders to seal the border.
Mizoram's decision is rooted in its ethnic and humanitarian stance. The region shares a common ethnicity with the Chin state in Myanmar and the Chin-Kuki tribals from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh.
Approximately 60,000 refugees from Myanmar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts have sought refuge in Mizoram since the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021.
Mizoram's Minister of Information and Public Relations, Lalruatkima, emphasized the state's familial ties with the refugees, asserting that the Central government's collection of biometric data would likely result in their expulsion.
He cited the historical context of border demarcation during British colonial rule, which left some Mizo relatives on the other side of the border.
This decision by the MNF-led government is viewed through a political lens, as the state gears up for Assembly elections. It is understood that the refugee issue will play a significant role in the electoral landscape.
The MNF, although not affiliated with the BJP in the state assembly, is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the national level.
Over recent years, Chief Minister Zoramthanga has sought to solidify his image as a leader not only of the Mizos but also of the broader Kuki-Chin community, exemplified by the state's welcoming stance towards Kuki refugees fleeing violence in Manipur, numbering over 12,000.