Mizoram CM Affirms Decision Against Collecting Biometric Data of Refugees

Northeast Desk, 29th February: Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma reiterated on Thursday that his government would refrain from collecting biometric details of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

He emphasized that the Centre is currently extending support to the state government in providing relief to refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as internally displaced people (IDP) from Manipur seeking refuge in Mizoram.

Addressing the assembly, Lalduhoma revealed that the Ministry of Home Affairs had previously instructed the state government to gather biometric data of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh in April of the previous year.

Despite initial efforts by the former Mizo National Front (MNF) government to comply with the directive by conducting training and appointing nodal officers, the decision was later reversed during a Council of Ministers meeting in September. It was deemed unwise to proceed with biometric and biographic enrollment for refugees amidst preparations for state assembly polls scheduled in November of that year.

“Our government has opted not to pursue the collection of biometric details from Myanmar and Bangladesh refugees,” Lalduhoma affirmed. He recounted informing the Union Home Minister during a January meeting that the Centre was utilizing an existing portal designed for the deportation of illegal immigrants to collect biometric data from refugees.

Assuring the assembly, Lalduhoma stated that he received assurance from the Home Minister that no refugees would face deportation until peace is restored in their respective countries.

He further disclosed that the state government is providing aid to refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as IDPs from Manipur, utilizing its own resources. Lalduhoma acknowledged the Centre’s assistance, noting a contribution of Rs 3 crore during the MNF rule and ongoing support to the current administration in aiding refugees and IDPs.

According to the state Home department, Mizoram is currently hosting 32,221 refugees from Myanmar, with Champhai district accommodating the highest number at 12,484. Additionally, 1,167 Bangladeshi nationals are seeking shelter in Lawngtlai district.

The chief minister highlighted the ethnic ties shared between the Mizos and the Chin people from Myanmar, the Bawm community from Bangladesh, and the Kuki-Zo people from Manipur. These groups have sought refuge in Mizoram due to various conflicts and crises in their respective regions.

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