By Sangzuala Hmar
Mizoram, India, Apr 5 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Myanmar nationals have sought refuge in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram since a military coup and brutal military repression in that country, nonprofits said Monday.
“Though there is no official count, I believe the figure (of refugees arriving from Myanmar has gone) beyond 3,000,” secretary of the Chin Refugee Committee MC Kin Lian told EFE.
The number of refugees crossing into India has been growing since the Feb.1 coup when the Myanmar military seized power and toppled an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
Most of them have sought shelter in Mizoram, which has 510 km of an over 1,600-km-long porous border between India and Myanmar.
The Myanmar citizens have been arriving in dozens every week, and locals, who share an ethnic and cultural bond with the Chin tribe in the Southeast Asian country, have housed them.
The legal status of the Chins is already disputed in India as the government does not recognize them as refugees.
Chins have had to approach the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi for protection.
A local NGO, Young Mizo Association (YMA), estimates that more than 1,000 refugees are in just 20 villages of the Tuichang region of the northeastern India state.
“We have been trying to keep the track of the numbers but with tension mounting in Kalemyo city, it is impossible to do that,” Lalrosanga, president of Mizo Welfare Organization, told EFE.
“I do not have any confirmation but the number could have crossed 3,000.”
The first group of Myanmar refugees, including cops and firemen, crossed over to the Indian state on Mar.12 when they defied the army orders to shoot pro-democracy activists demanding restoration of civilian rule.
The number of people fleeing their country has been growing since then. Most of them are government servants.
“We have reports that hundreds have sneaked in to southern Mizoram districts of Siaha and Lawngtlai. Since most of them are afraid that the Myanmar Army might locate them, they have been living with their relatives quietly and that makes it very difficult to get the exact numbers,” MC Kin Lian said.
Many refugees have also taken shelter in Aizawl, the state capital, which has around 4,000 people of Chin origin.
Villages along the Mizoram-Myanmar border fear a mass exodus of refugees.
“We are willing to share what we have. But if more refugees come, we won’t have anything to share,” Lalmuankima, president of the YMA in the Farkawn village, told EFE.
Presently, Farkawn is sheltering nearly 430 refugees.
According to several civil society organizations, districts of Champhai, Lawngtlai, Siaha, Saitual, Hnahthial, and Serchhip in Mizoram have reported the presence of refugees after the coup. EFE-EPA