Manipur has said narco-terrorists and illegal Myanmar immigrants are behind the ethnic clashes
The centre has extended by six months the deadline for the Manipur government to complete its drive to capture the biometrics of illegal immigrants from Myanmar. The centre had also asked Manipur's neighbour Mizoram to carry out the biometric exercise and complete it by September. Mizoram, however, has declined to carry out the exercise saying it would amount to "discrimination".
The Home Ministry in a letter to the Manipur Chief Secretary today asked the state to complete the exercise by March 31, 2024.
The earlier deadline for the exercise was September 30.
The Manipur government had requested for more time as the exercise began only after May 29 amid the violence between the hill-majority Kuki tribes and the valley-majority Meiteis.
The Home Ministry on May 29 had written to the N Biren Singh government to "quickly prepare the plan and initiate the biometric collection of illegal migrants" by September 30.
"... It has been informed that the exercise is still going on and may require some more time to complete," Surender Kumar, Director (Foreigners) in the Home Ministry, said in the letter to the Manipur Chief Secretary.
The ethnic clashes in Manipur have been linked to alleged involvement of illegal immigrants from Myanmar, apart from narcoterrorism.
A team from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) trained state government officials on capturing biometric data of illegal Myanmar immigrants, Joint Secretary (Home) Peter Salam said in a statement July 29.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who belongs to the BJP, has said Myanmar immigrants are responsible for deforestation, poppy cultivation and drug menace. Over 180 have died and thousands internally displaced in Manipur.
In neighbouring Mizoram, the Information and Public Relations Minister Lalruatkima yesterday told reporters India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, 1951, and its 1967 protocol, so people fleeing persecution and unrest in neighbouring countries can't be given refugee status.
"Collection of biometric and biographic data of Myanmar refugees would amount to discrimination against people who are of our blood and kindred brothers and sisters. So, the council of ministers decided not to undertake this as of now," Lalruatkima told reporters. His state has received over 50,000 refugees.
The Mizoram assembly election is due later this year.