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AIZAWL | July 3, 2019 (IANS):
Assam Rifles has sent 135 refugees from Myanmar back to their country and also provided them with 15 days of ration to sustain themselves, a Mizoram district official said on Wednesday.
"Assam Rifles troopers sent back 135 Myanmarese belonging to 54 families to their country late on Tuesday. We have also provided them 15 days of ration," Lawngtlai district Deputy Commissioner Shashanka Ala told IANS over phone.
She said around 219 Myanmarese refugees were staying in four villages of Mizoram's Lawngtlai district since November 2017 after they fled from the Arakan (Rakhine) state of Myanmar following ethnic troubles.
"Of the 219 refugees, including children and women, 84 people voluntarily went back to Myanmar and on Tuesday, Assam Rifles sent back another 135 Myanmarese nationals," Ala said.
An official of the Mizoram Home Department said the refugees feared for their safety and were reluctant to return to Myanmar.
"The Union Home Ministry has recently asked the Mizoram government to deport these refugees at the earliest," the official said refusing to disclose his identity.
According to him, during the armed conflict in November 2017 between the Myanmar Army and Rakhine-based militant outfit Arakan Army, over 1,700 refugees from Myanmar villages entered Lawngtlai district of southern Mizoram.
"Majority of the refugees subsequently returned to their villages but around 219 immigrants were reluctant to go back even as Myanmar authorities said there was no trouble," the official said.
He said the refugees have constructed houses and are engaged in "jhum" (slash-and-burn) cultivation in Mizoram.
Before the just concluded Assembly elections, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana had said that the state government has conducted a verification of the identity of these refugees after receiving conflicting reports from Assam Rifles and the district administration.
Meanwhile, over 738,000 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state in western Myanmar have arrived in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh since ethnic troubles began in August, 2017.
The Rohingya Muslims residing in Bangladeshi refugee camps have, on and off, entered the northeastern states of India illegally in search of jobs or after being trapped in human trafficking.
Four northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Manipur (398 km), Nagaland (215 km) and Mizoram (510 km) — share an unfenced border with Myanmar. Counter insurgency-trained Assam Rifles troopers are guarding the India-Myanmar mountainous border, infamous for smuggling of drugs and arms.