Security Nightmare: 718 Myanmar illegal immigrants flood violence-hit Manipur

Ethnic violence in Myanmar fuels a surge of illegal immigration into Manipur, raising concerns over security and stability

| Updated: 25 July, 2023 8:58 pm IST
Lieutenant Colonel Venkata Ravi Kiran J rung the alarm bells in his letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Chandel district

NEW DELHI: Amid the ongoing armed conflicts in Myanmar, Manipur in India is grappling with a significant surge in illegal immigration from its troubled neighbour.

Experts suggest that this influx has fueled ethnic violence within Manipur, prompting concerns among the public and raising alarms for the administration and security agencies.

In a recent development, Lieutenant Colonel Venkata Ravi Kiran J wrote a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Chandel district, stating that a staggering number of 718 illegal immigrants had crossed into Indian territory in a single day.

These fresh refugees fled to the general area of New Lajang in Chandel district on July 23 due to ongoing clashes in Khampat, Myanmar.

According to data compiled by the Indian army, the influx of illegal immigrants started on July 22, when 13 people arrived at New Lajang, including 2 males, 3 females, and 8 children. The following day, on July 23, the number skyrocketed as 301 Myanmar nationals entered Indian territory.

Lieutenant Colonel Venkata Ravi Kiran J’s letter detailed the distribution of these illegal immigrants across various locations in the district, with 38 arriving at Bonse, 89 at New Samtal, 230 at New Lajang, 143 at Yangnomphai village, 175 at Yangon Phai sawmill, and 30 at Aivomjang village. Among the 718 intruders, 209 were males, 208 were females, and a staggering 301 were children.

According to the 2011 census, the large-scale illegal immigration, that has been going on since the 1960s, has affected the demographic population in the region. According to the census, Hindu population in Chandel has been reduced to 7.5 per cent while at Churachandpur it is 4.28 per cent.

Busting the myth of a Hindu majority, the census also pointed out that the population of Hindus in Manipur has been reduced to 41.4 per cent from 57 per cent.

Concerned about the magnitude of the situation, the Manipur Government urgently instructed the Assam Rifles to immediately push back these 718 illegal intruders, including the 301 children, who had illegally entered the state.

This is not the first instance of such large-scale immigration from Myanmar to Manipur. An internal report submitted by IGP Kabib K (Intelligence, Narcotics, and Affairs of Border) to the Commissioner (Home) in June this year reveals disturbing data on illegal immigrants from Myanmar in five hill districts of Manipur.

Addressing the gravity of the situation, Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey formed a high-power Cabinet Sub-Committee comprising three cabinet ministers – Letpao Haokip, Awangbow Newmai, and Th Basanta Kumar Singh – on February 16, 2023.

The committee was assigned the task of assessing the influx from Myanmar into Indian territory, particularly given the ongoing political crisis and armed conflicts in Myanmar.

Following the government’s orders, the first phase of the detection drive was conducted in April, during which a staggering 2,480 illegal immigrants or refugees from Myanmar were identified across the five hill districts.

Among these, 1,147 were detected in the Tengnoupal district, where 13 villages were established by illegal immigrants. Chandel district had 1,175 detected individuals across 10 villages, and in Churachandpur district, 154 illegal Myanmar nationals established six new villages.

The severity of the influx poses a considerable security threat to national interests. Many of these illegal immigrants have not only settled in Manipur temporarily but have built proper villages, turning the state into their permanent residence.

As the influx continues, concerns are mounting over its potential impact on the security and stability of Manipur and the entire nation.

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