Mizoram govt takes stand for Myanmar neighbours, rejects biometrics collection

The Mizoram government has chosen to resist a directive requiring the collection of biometric data, raising concerns of potential discrimination. Lalruatkima, the Minister of Information and Public Relations, conveyed this stance in Aizawl, Mizoram’s capital, during a state Cabinet meeting led by Chief Minister Zoramthanga.

The central government had previously instructed the northeastern states, Mizoram and Manipur which share borders with Myanmar, to conclude the biometric data collection process for Myanmar “illegal immigrants” by September. While this initiative had already commenced in Manipur and Nagaland, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) extended Manipur’s deadline until March 2024 in light of the region’s ongoing challenges.

Within Manipur, a state riddled with violence, the Meitei community had pressed for the collection of biometrics from “illegal migrants” from Myanmar, aiming for their eventual deportation. Sources reveal that the Mizoram government declined participation in the biometrics collection due to concerns that it might lead to the “forced deportation” of individuals currently facing distressing circumstances.

The Mizoram government has provided refuge to Myanmar nationals in community halls and makeshift camps, with various NGOs, churches, and civil society organizations extending support to these “refugees.”

Over 30,000 Myanmar nationals, including MPs and MLAs, have sought shelter in Mizoram since the military junta’s crackdown on “pro-democracy protesters” in 2021. However, despite the central government’s urging, Mizoram CM Zoramthanga has firmly rejected the directive, asserting that Chin refugees are akin to the Mizos, and Mizoram cannot “turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in our own backyard.”

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