Immigration Crackdown Continues in Mizoram
17 June 2009: In an ongoing immigration crackdown, Mizoram police continues to hunt and arrest ‘foreigners’ on a daily basis since the beginning of this month, according to sources in Aizawl. At least five to ten people are being arrested each day, one local resident reported, adding that those arrested are kept in police lock-ups and produced to the Aizawl District Court when there are enough numbers.
As of now the police appears to be targeting three main areas in Aizawl and surrounding areas: Aizawl Bazaar area, Rangvamual and Phunchawng. According to one police officer, the law enforcement is targeting crime-prone areas where illicit alcohol bootlegging is common. Mizoram has imposed a total ban on the production and selling of alcohol many years ago.
But another police officer who is involved in the ongoing crackdown said the goal is to arrest anyone without proper permits to stay in the State.
As many as 50 ‘illegals’ have been arrested since the beginning of June. They were brought to the Aizawl District Court where the court found them guilty of illegal entry into India and slapped a fine of 500 Rupees per person. Half of them were reportedly released after paying up the fine. However, 25 people who could not afford the fine were transported by a police van and dumped at Zokhawthar, the Indian side of the border, on June 14.
“The police who were escorting us to the border appeared to be drunk, and they told us that we would be released if we paid them 200 Rupees per person. They body-searched us when we said we have no money,” said one person who made it back to Aizawl after being transported to the India-Burma border.
Mizoram police has stepped up a campaign to hunt and arrest ‘illegal migrants’ in the State after a new State government was sworn in December 2008.
According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, there are as many as 70, 000 to 100, 000 ethnic Chins from Burma in Mizoram State who have fled to India in the last two decades to escape massive human rights abuse in western Burma. Human Rights Watch in a report released in January this year said that the majority of Chins in Mizoram may well qualify as refugees under international law, despite the fact that India has not recognized them as such.