Monday, 30th October 2017

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Mizoram government drive against illegal residents

In March last year, the legislature passed The Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019

By Henry L. Khojol in Aizawl
  • Published 12.03.20, 12:32 AM
  • Updated 12.03.20, 12:32 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Buddha Dhan Chakma (Twitter/@BuddhaDhan)

The Mizoram government has launched a massive drive to detect foreigners and is carrying out the exercise, along with identification of unauthorised villages across the state, at time when a household register bill to differentiate between genuine residents and foreigners is pending with the Centre for approval.

In March last year, the legislature passed The Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019, which seeks to identify foreigners in the state. The bill is pending with the Centre for approval.

The exercise, which began in early February, is being carried out under the joint initiative of the state home department and local administration department (LAD), a senior official said on Wednesday.

LAD secretary Rodney Ralte told The Telegraph that there are about 19 unauthorised villages in four Mizoram districts — Lunglei, Champhai, Mamit and Serchhip —allegedly established by Bangladeshi immigrants.

A majority of the illegal villages are in Lunglei district, three in Champhai district, two in Mamit district and another one in Serchhip district, he said. The unauthorised villages are inhabited mostly by the Chakmas and Bru communities. According to Ralte, a strong appeal from civil society groups and student groups has prompted the state government to carry out the foreigner detection drive.

He said identification of the inhabitants or residents of the unauthorised villages is in progress under the supervision of district deputy commissioners. “Genuine residents of the state will be asked to return to their parent village in the state while foreigners would be pushed back to their respective countries,” he said.

He ruled out the allegation that the government is taking up a National Register of Citizens (NRC)-like exercise.

“No NRC exercise has been carried out anywhere in the state. The state government is only identifying illegal villages and foreigners according to the existing law,” he said.

He said the state government issued a notification banning development activities in all the unauthorised settlements and also asked churches and NGOs to refrain from taking up such activities.

Officials of the department said Tuichawngchhuah, an illegal village inhabited by Chakma communities in Lunglei district, which was served an eviction notice in May last year, has been deserted by the residents, who shifted to nearby Tuichawng village.

They said Belva, another illegal village in the same district, has also been vacated.

Earlier this month, Chakma politicians and leaders, including BJP’s lone legislator Buddha Dhan Chakma and the party’s national council member Nirupam Chakma, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to stop the alleged “illegal NRC” being conducted by the Mizoram government, specifically targeting the Chakmas. “The illegal survey has been conducted in at least 14 Chakma-inhabited villages of Lunglei district. No such survey is being conducted in any Mizo-inhabited village,” they said in the letter.

The Buddhist Chakmas are a minority in Christian-dominated Mizoram and are mainly concentrated in two districts — Lunglei and Lawngtlai near the Bangladesh border.