The situation in Myanmar following the coup d’état has led to a humanitarian crisis of significant proportions, with thousands of refugees, particularly ethnic minorities, seeking safety in neighbouring countries like India. In this context, it is imperative for the Indian government and state administrations to adopt a compassionate and empathetic approach towards these refugees, providing them with the support and assistance they desperately need.

Mizoram stands out as a beacon of humanity in its treatment of refugees from Myanmar, particularly those of Chin ethnicity. The Mizos have welcomed their ethnic brethren with open arms, offering them refuge and support during their time of need. This compassionate response reflects the values of solidarity and empathy that should guide our collective response to humanitarian crises.

In contrast, the treatment of refugees from Myanmar in Manipur is deeply troubling. Instead of extending a helping hand to those fleeing violence and persecution, the Manipur government has chosen to conflate the issue of refugees with concerns about cross-border drug trade, stigmatizing and marginalizing vulnerable populations in the process.

Moves such as ending the Free Movement Regime and announcing plans to fence the India-Myanmar border only exacerbate the plight of refugees and undermine the principles of compassion and human rights. Chief Minister Biren Singh’s focus on “illegal immigration” fails to acknowledge the root causes of the conflict in Manipur, instead perpetuating a biased and simplistic narrative that scapegoats refugees for broader societal issues.

Moreover, the militarization of Manipuri society and the rise of vigilante groups armed with sophisticated weapons further exacerbate tensions and impede efforts to restore peace and stability in the region. It is incumbent upon the Manipur government to prioritize dialogue, reconciliation, and confidence-building measures to address the underlying causes of conflict and foster a culture of inclusivity and mutual respect.

It is imperative for governments at both the state and national levels to uphold the principles of human rights and provide refuge and support to those fleeing violence and persecution. Unless the issue is addressed through a collective commitment to compassion and humanity, peace and stability in the region will not prevail.

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