Schism between Central government and the Mizoram on Myanmar refugees issue


    In News 

    • India  has taken a lot of the refugees  from Myanmar since the coup .

    What led to the military coup in Myanmar?

    • In early 2021, the country’s Parliament had been expected to endorse recent election results and approve the next government. 
    • The military refused to accept the results of the vote, which was widely seen as a referendum on the popularity of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. 
      • As head of the National League for Democracy, she had been the de facto civilian leader since her election in 2015.
      • The military says the November 2020 general election was full of “irregularities”, and has maintained that the results are therefore not valid.


    • There has been an influx of people into Mizoram since the Myanmar Army seized power .
      • Many of them are democracy activists belonging to the Chin ethic group.
      • In refugee terms, there is no real difference between Rohingya and these new arrivals.
      •  Both have fled the Myanmar Army, although in different circumstances.
        • The only difference is that Myanmar accepts one lot as citizens while it rejects Rohingya, who are stateless.
    • Agreements related to free movements  :
      • Along the largely unfenced Mizoram-Myanmar border, people from both sides have traditionally moved in and out freely. 
        • The Free Movement Regime (FMR) in 2018 between India and Myanmar legalised this practice. 
          • It has facilitated ease of movement wherein a large number of borderlands routinely cross over on either side for work and to meet relatives. 

    Response of Mizoram 

    • Mizoram is caught between a humanitarian urge and India’s policy on refugees. 
    • The Mizoram favours providing refuge to the Chins, who are ethnically related to the majority Mizos in the State.
    • There is also a fairly long history of mutual empathy and solidarity between the Mizos and the Chins.
      •  From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Chin people extended open support and sanctuary to the members of the Mizo National Front, who were fighting for secession from the Indian Union
      • Similarly, when the Chins were subjected to brutal repression at the hands of the junta regime during the 1988 pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, the Mizos extended a helping hand. 
    • Recently ,The Myanmar government has started issuing identity cards to Myanmarese refugees who have taken shelter in the northeastern State .

    Governments Stand 

    •  The Ministry of Home Affairs has made it clear that “India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol theron”.
    • Therefore it  issues an advisory to stay alert and take appropriate action to prevent a possible influx into Indian territory” and further reminding the Northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, and Mizoram that share borders with Myanmar that they have no powers to grant “refugee status to any foreigner.

    India’s Refugee Policy

    • India’s approach towards refugees is customary and a dynamic one having regard to prevailing socio-political conditions. Though India is not a party to 1951 convention or 1967 protocol it acceded to various Human Rights treaties including the UNHCR and it is obliged to protect the rights of refugees.
    • As per Indian law, there is no law to deal with the refugee, both illegal migrants & refugee categories of people are viewed as one and the same and are covered under the Foreigners Act, 1946. 
    • The constitution of India protects the refugees’ right to life with dignity that includes right against solitary confinement and custodial violence, right to medical assistance and shelter.

    Conclusions and Way Forward 

    • The contrast in the responses of the two governments emanates from the security-centric approach of the Centre and the people-centred focus of the Mizoram government. 
    • It appears that the Centre has probably gauged the sensitivity of the issue from the vantage point of the Mizos and has somewhat softened its aggressive posture towards both the Mizoram government and the Chin refugees after more than one year of their stay in the state. 
    • It may do even better by owning up to the refugees and helping the state government sustain the relief work, which the latter might not be able to carry out on its own in the long run
    • As the largest democracy in the world, India must reach out to the freedom fighters in Myanmar who are spearheading a civil disobedience movement to restore what was until recently a fledgling democracy.
    • There is a need to ensure the continued economic development of Northeastern states. 
    • Myanmar is the gateway to Southeast Asia and as such, a vital trade partner for India and the only neighbour with which India shares both a land and sea border. 
      • It is also an important ally in combating extremism and insurgency.
      • Crucially, India’s approach to the situation in Myanmar needs to be understood through the lens of competition with China. 


    Mains Practise Question 

    [Q] There is a lack of specific legislation governing refugees and asylum seekers in India ,Elaborate