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Myanmar and Manipur’s diplomatic situation turns chaotic

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the generals ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, triggering mass protests demanding a return to democracy. The country has seen widespread bloodshed since then as soldiers and police have embarked on a rampage. Saturday, March 27, was the bloodiest day yet as forces killed at least 114 people — including children — in 44 towns and cities across the country. India’s border state of Manipur has issued an order barring local authorities and the civil society from offering food and shelter to refugees from Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Ambassador to the United Nations has appealed to the Indian government and various state governments to provide shelter to refugees given the humanitarian crisis in his country, saying the two countries “have a long history, let’s never forget that”.

According to the order, only medical attention can be provided in case of “grievous injuries” on “humanitarian consideration”. The order has been issued to deputy commissioners of the Chandel, Tengnoupal, Kamjong, Ukhrul and Churachandpur districts to take appropriate actions regarding the “illegal entry of Myanmarese nationals”.

The Biren Singh government’s order had provoked outrage, with many claiming that the order goes against the country’s tradition of humanitarianism. The order had further said that Aadhaar enrolment should be stopped immediately and enrolment kits to be kept in safe custody. “People trying to enter/seek refuge should be politely turned away,” read the order.

According to the order issued the same day, the Manipur government said the district administrations or the civil society should not open camps to provide food and shelter to the refugees.

But in the revised order, sent on March 29, the state government said that “it appears that the contents of the (original) letter have been misconstrued and interpreted differently.” “The state government has been taking all humanitarian steps and had recently taken all steps, including taking them to Imphal, to treat the injured Myanmarese nationals,” it added. “Aadhar enrollment should be stopped immediately and Aadhar enrolment kits to be kept in safe custody,” added the order in the backdrop of decades of a tussle over illegal migration from Bangladesh.

India has been expecting refugees from the neighbouring country as people flee the violence, but the Manipur government said the district administrations or the civil society should not open camps to provide food and shelter to the refugees.

By Karishma Gwalani

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