The morning of 1st February 2021 shadowed the democracy of Myanmar with the military coup. The Tatmadaw took over the power and put many including the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in detention. Since then, large scale protests have erupted in the country in reaction to which the junta has resorted to force and brutality, imprisoning, and even shooting many. This has made many citizens cross borders and enter Indian North-East states, especially Mizoram. While the state government is in favor of providing refuge to these people, the home ministry has expressed its disappointment on the same.
The state government is true in saying that these are innocent people who just want to save their lives and thus have turned towards India. Throwing them back into that dreaded situation would be insensitive meaning that the soul of India is dead. The Mizo National Front government also said that being the largest democracy, India must support the neighbours fighting for it. These people are not demanding citizenship or employment but just a peaceful and safe existence.
Nevertheless, the centre reiterated the fact that as India isn’t part of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention or the 1967 protocols, these people are ‘infiltrants’ and not ‘refugees’ going by the technical take on the matter. The Centre has strictly asked the Assam Rifles and the state authorities to deport these people back to their nation.
Though the humanitarian approach of the state looks more convincing, a deeper insight must be taken as for running a nation, humanity is not enough. Since time immemorial, India has been an abode to many foreigners in crisis. Much before the refugee conventions came into existence, the idea of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ has opened the door to our home for anyone in need. However, the world today has changed a lot in which India is a developing nation. Moreover, the northeast has struggled for years to find a golden mean between development and protection of the culture. Keeping this in mind, settling the migrants in these states can fiddle with the demography as well as the resource availability for the natives. The time for which this crisis would continue is not known and so is not the number of such influx, thus in future this could invite more complexity. Also, the statement that these people will not demand citizenship or employment falls flat in the face of reality that the Rohingya crisis presented with many either remaining untapped by national surveys or living with fake IDs. Also, getting involved in the issues of other nations can complicate the diplomatic stakes of India in future as we don’t know how this military autocracy would end up changing the dynamics of South-East Asia. India anyways has collaborated with the Burmese army to suppress insurgencies and terrorism from across the border that has injured our nation in the past.
Thus, the state government, the central government, and the Assam Rifles. They must reach a consensus on time that can both save our neighbours and save the demography of the North-east. Keeping proper track via the technology of the people who cross borders along with limiting their settlements to assigned areas could be a way forward. Also, the NGOs can take up the task to provide the required facilities to the refugees thus leaving the state government for our Indian citizens. India must use its soft power to mobilize other nations to resolve the situation. Raising this issue via Quad is therefore appreciated. Along with all these, once the issue is solved, tracking the deportation of these people back to their home countries must be taken up by India along with the international bodies like the UN.
This issue has however turned the attention towards the porous borders India has. Fast-track installation of electronic sensors across difficult terrain would not only prevent such matters in future but would also relieve the men in uniform. The world is definitely a family, but an extended one. We must prioritize our immediate family- our Indian citizens. Their well-being and safety always come first, and it needs to be taken care of not just in the present but also for the future.