Tribal Group Alleges Myanmar Refugees Building Settlement; Not True, Says Assam Rifles

The Assam Rifles in a statement on Tuesday denied the existence of such "illegal settlements"

Refugees from Myanmar have been taking shelter in India

New Delhi:

Refugees from war-torn Myanmar have been found allegedly building houses in Manipur's Tengnoupal district without informing the state authorities, a Maring tribe group has said. The Assam Rifles in a statement on Tuesday, however, denied the existence of such "illegal settlements".

Some refugees have indeed taken shelter in that area due to the war-like situation in Myanmar; however, they are immediately repatriated as the security situation improves across the Indo-Myanmar border, the Assam Rifles said in the statement shared with local media.

The alleged illegal settlement was found between pillar number 82 and 89 near the border with Myanmar by volunteers, the Maring tribe group said.

The Assam Rifles refuted allegations by the Maring tribe volunteers who claimed the state authorities did not know about the "illegal settlements". In fact, the accommodation arrangements for the refugees consist of self-help, bare essential thatched huts with polythene covers, the Assam Rifles said, adding the state administration is fully aware of the presence of refugees in the area and has also collected their biometric data.

The Rilram Area Maring Organisation, or RAMO, had said it sent out volunteers to check their villages near border pillar numbers 82 to 89, following reports of a significant number of Myanmar refugees pouring into Maring tribe's areas in Tengnoupal district.

RAMO said they told the authorities they found a considerable presence of Myanmar refugees building houses and other structures. The areas RAMO volunteers visited were Chanringphai, Choktong, N Satang, and Sangtong villages under Lamlong Khunou circle. Village chiefs in the area have complained they were no longer able to manage the influx of refugees from Myanmar, the RAMO volunteers said.

Several Naga civil bodies and organisations in Manipur last week asked Home Minister Amit Shah to repatriate "illegal Myanmar immigrants". After visiting border areas on a fact-finding mission, the United Naga Council (UNC), Naga Women's Union (NWU), All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM), and Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPM-HR) gave a memorandum to Mr Shah.

Mr Shah in August 2023 had told Lok Sabha the problem in Manipur started with the influx of Chin-Kuki refugees from neighbouring Myanmar after the military rulers there started a crackdown against insurgents in 2021. The refugees coming to Manipur raised fears of a demographic change in the region, Mr Shah had said, adding rumours that refugee settlements have been declared as villages was the final straw.

The ethnic clashes between the Meitei community and the Kuki tribes began over cataclysmic disagreements on sharing land, resources, affirmative action policies, and political representation, mainly with the 'general' category Meiteis seeking to be included under the Scheduled Tribes category. Over 220 have been killed, and more than 50,000 have been internally displaced.