The Manipur government has withdrawn its order to the local authorities barring them from offering food or shelter to refugees from Myanmar that might flee into the state due to the ongoing turmoil in the neighbouring country.
The state government had, in its order sent out on March 26, also asked border officials to “politely turn away” those seeking refuge in India. According to the order, only medical attention could be provided in case of “grievous injuries” on “humanitarian consideration”.
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.
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.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power in a coup and overthrew the country’s elected government on February 1. 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 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.
Myanmar’s Ambassador to the United Nations had also appealed to the Indian government and various state governments to provide shelter to refugees given the humanitarian crisis in his country.