More than 200 people belonging to the Kuki-Chin-Mizo community from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have entered Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district.
- They have entered Mizoram illegally due to an armed conflict between the neighbouring country’s Army and an ethnic armed group.
- Mizoram, already burdened with 30,000 refugees from coup-hit Myanmar, is now facing a fresh influx from neighbouring Bangladesh, with which it shares a 318-km-long partly fenced international border.
- The Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion has launched operation against some insurgents belonging to the group.
- The matter has been discussed by the Ministry of Home Affairs with the External Affairs Ministry.
Refugees in India –
- As per the database of UNHCR, India is home to 2.44 lakh refugees and asylum seekers.
- Of these, 2,03,235 refugees are from Sri Lanka and Tibet and 40,859 refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities.
- There are nearly half a million Nepali immigrants residing in India, according to the International Labour Organisation.
India’s response –
- India ensures that refugees can access protection services that are on a par with their fellow Indian hosts.
- For those refugees registered directly by the Government such as those from Sri Lanka, they are entitled to Aadhaar cards and PAN cards to enable their economic and financial inclusion.
- They can have access to national welfare schemes and contribute effectively to the Indian economy.
- However, for those registered with UNHCR, such as refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar and other countries, while they have access to protection and limited assistance services, they do not possess government-issued documentation.
- Thus, they are unable to open bank accounts and don’t get benefit from all government welfare schemes, and are thus inadvertently left behind.
Laws and regulations dealing with refugees in India –
- India does not have a national policy or a law to deal with refugees.
- India is not a signatory to international laws such as the 1951 UN Convention and the 1967 Protocol.
- These laws secure the rights of refugees to seek asylum and protect them from being sent back to life-threatening places.
- Furthermore, India does not acknowledge the administrative role of the UNHCR within its territory and chooses to handle refugee crises unilaterally.
- Those entering India without a visa are treated as illegal immigrants under the Foreigners Act or the Indian Passport Act.
- The only protection they have is the right to life under Article 21 and protection against arbitrary abuse of power under Article 14 of the constitution.