The Manipur government has started a drive to record the biometric details of alleged “illegal migrants” from Myanmar — an exercise that many say resembles the National Register of Citizens or NRC.
On June 22, the Centre wrote to two states — Manipur and Mizoram — to begin a drive to record biometric details of suspected illegal immigrants from Myanmar. Officials said records are needed in view of national security.
India shares over a 1,600-km long porous border with Myanmar in the northeast. Of this 390 km lies in Manipur and 500 km in Mizoram. Both staes have cross-border refugee influx issues.
The India-Myanmar border has a Free Movement Regime or FMR, which allows tribes living along the border to travel 16 km across either side of the border without visa restrictions. Ethnic tribes of same stock, with strong connection, live on either side of the border.
Since the 2021 Myanmar coup, this border has become much more vulnerable to infiltration.
The burden of refugees is more on Mizoram. An estimated 35,000 Chin people from Myanmar’s Chin state have crossed into Mizoram since the military coup in February 2021.
The Kuki-Zomi-chin and Mizos have strong tribal links and the influx from Myanmar is not a major issue in Mizoram.
It is not clear how many from Myanmar are living in Manipur. Civil society groups from the Meitei community have alleged that in Kuki-dominated areas, Kukis from Myanmar are getting settled.
The Meitei groups have been asking for an NRC-type exercise.
The state government had formed a cabinet sub-committee to conduct a survey to find out who is an indigenous and who is illegal settler. In its initial report on April 24, the committee said they found 2,187 illegal immigrants in 41 places.
Kuki-Zomi groups have been alleging that genuine Indian tribals are being harassed.
Chief Minister Biren Singh has said militants and Myanmarese people have been behind the ethnic violence on since May — which the tribals have vehemently opposed.
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