With around 30,500 Myanmarese sheltered in Mizoram since the military junta seized power in their country in February last year and intermittent clashes going on with the civilian forces, smuggling of drugs, foreign cigarettes, gold, dried areca nuts, exotic animals and other contraband from Myanmar has increased to a large extent.
Besides the illegal trade, job rackets are also duping Indians while the Myanmar refugees are trying to do petty business and purchase land, forcing the state government and other authorities to take strict action.
Assam Rifles, which guards Mizoram’s 510 km long unfenced international border with Myanmar, apprehended 20 Myanmar nationals this year in various anti smuggling operations while the Mizoram police also arrested many Myanmarese for their involvement in the illicit trade.
To deal with the situation, Assam Rifles Inspector General (East) Major General V.K. Nambiar recently held a first ever conclave with the influential NGOs of Mizoram and requested them to be proactive to curb the rising illegal activities involving Myanmar nationals.
An Assam Rifles official said that various avenues of cooperation between the armed forces and the common people were highlighted in the conclave which also expressed concern about the recent increasing trend of smuggling narcotics.
“Increased number of Myanmar nationals involved in narcotics smuggling in Mizoram causing concern as Myanmarese being allured by the drug syndicate and kingpins to earn money easily. They are vulnerable targets for such illegal activities.
“This grave misutilisation of Myanmar nationals requires immediate attention for which NGOs’ support was required,” the Assam Rifles official said.
He said that another issue of grave concern is the awarding of the locals’ land to Myanmar nationals and establishing daily utility shops by Myanmar nationals which in the long run can affect the economy and livelihood of the local populace and the state.
“Some of the Myanmar nationals were even found with Indian voter ID and Aadhaar cards.”
Major General Nambiar told the NGOs at the conclave that Mizoram society requires to be guided in the right direction.
He assured the NGOs of all help from Assam Rifles for the bright future of the people of Mizoram.
The conclave was attended by the office bearers of Young Mizo Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawl, Mizo Students Union, Mizoram Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl and Mizoram Football Association who expressed their support.
The alarming increase in smuggling activities involving Myanmarese in Mizoram has also prompted the CYMA to form a Central Anti-Drug Squad (CADS) recently to deal with it.
The Mizoram government has recently instructed the Myanmar refugees, presently taking shelter in all the 11 districts of the state, not to purchase land, houses or run a business without prior permission from the state government.
The government order has come after several reports that the Myanmar migrants are trying to purchase land, open small shops and run small businesses in the districts along the Myanmar border.
The state government order also barred the refugees from any attempt to enrol for an Aadhaar card, voter identity card, driving license or any other government document.
The Mizoram police also recently asked the people to be cautious about the recruitment of Indians by unauthorised agents in the areas bordering Myanmar.
A senior Mizoram police official said that the people living along the unfenced border with Myanmar must remain alert against unofficial recruitment of Indians by the unauthorised agents.
The official said that it was reported recently that some IT companies engaged in digital scam and unlawful crypto activities, located in the remote eastern border areas of Myanmar, are recruiting Indian workers from different places through their agents on the pretext of employment opportunities in the IT sector.
After initial recruitment, the Indian workers are facilitated to enter Myanmar illegally without proper documents, leading to their entrapment, the official said.
Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Arindam Bagchi on Friday said in New Delhi that the Indian nationals were advised not to get entrapped in fake job offers originating from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
He said around 50 people have been rescued so far from Myanmar and efforts are being made to get back the others too.
As per official records, the majority of around 30,500 Myanmar refugees including 11,798 children and 10,047 women are sheltered in Mizoram in over 156 camps in all the 11 districts while a large number of them took shelter in relatives’ houses, community centres, rented houses, government buildings and shelter houses set up by various NGOs.
The Myanmarese are provided with food, medicines and other relief material by the state government, NGOs, churches and village authorities.
The Mizoram government has provided temporary identity cards to the refugees for identification purposes to differentiate the holder from Indian citizens and the ID card is not valid for availing the government’s schemes and outside Mizoram.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)