Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said on Sunday that 5,801 illegal immigrants from Myanmar had been detected in Kamjong district since a civil war broke out in the neighboring country. According to Indian Express, the Chief Minister said, fifteen of them have died of natural causes and 359 voluntarily returned to Myanmar.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh

A government statement indicated that the remaining 5,457 immigrants are housed in eight designated camps, which are located far from the local habitation to prevent mixing with local people. “They are provided with identity cards by the district administration and headcount is done every alternate day,” it said. It further said the people were keen on returning to Myanmar but could not do so due to bombing by the country’s army in the past few days.

In this regard, the Manipur government has informed that it is stepping up vigil in five districts that share a border with Myanmar to curb the migration of persecuted minorities fleeing the civil war-torn country. The government has appointed a nodal officer in each of Ukhrul, Kamjong, Tengnoupal, Chandel and Churachandpur districts and entrusted them to monitor and check illegal migration.

In a May 11 order, the government said the nodal officers had been appointed as the influx of “illegal immigrants” is on the rise. As per the order, “The nodal officers will identify new settlements and illegal migrants in the new settlements and other suspected locations, capture biometrics of the illegal migrants, upload biometric details in foreigners’ identification portal of Ministry of Home Affairs and submit weekly reports to the government along with photographs and videos”.

The district magistrates and the superintendents of police of the five districts have been asked to provide necessary assistance to the nodal officers in terms of manpower and logistics. Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Sunday urged the people of the state not to panic or spread rumors.

Stating that relief is being provided on humanitarian grounds, he said, “The illegal migrants will be deported by following the due process of law. The government will ensure that indigenous people are protected and that illegal migration is checked.”

This development comes as the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has urged India to “immediately halt” their “forced returns” to the strife-torn country and “respect the non-refoulement principle” in a press note on 10 May.

The ICJ issued this barely a week after Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh had announced on X (formerly Twitter) that his government had “completed the first phase of deportation” of 77 refugees who had entered the northeastern state from Myanmar.

In the statement, the Geneva-based human rights organization that works for developing international rights standards through the law, said, “The Indian authorities’ forced return of 77 Myanmar refugees violates the principle of non-refoulement, and any further plans to forcibly return more Myanmar refugees must be immediately halted.”

MTNews Desk

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