First batch of Myanmar refugees deported

Imphal: The first batch of seven Myanmar nationals, who had entered Manipur while fleeing a military coup in the neighbouring country in 2021, were deported on Friday, officials said.

The seven foreign nationals were transported by a helicopter from Imphal airport to Moreh border town in Tengnoupal district. From there, they were handed over to Myanmar authorities at Tamu town, they said.

Altogether 77 Myanmar nationals including 55 women and five children will be deported in the next few days, they added.

Manipur planned to send back at least 77 refugees starting from Friday, according to a state government document seen by Reuters. The state has been roiled by sporadic violence that has killed nearly 200 people so far since ethnic clashes broke out in May last year.

The first group of refugees arrived in the Indian border town of Moreh and would likely be handed over on Saturday, an Indian security official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Singh shared a video clip on X showing some women refugees being brought out of security vans and taken into an airport.

New Delhi has not signed the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, which spells out refugees’ rights and states’ responsibilities to protect them, nor does it have its own laws protecting refugees.

Singh wrote in his post that the country gave “shelter & aid to those fleeing the crisis in Myanmar on humanitarian grounds with a systematic approach”.

India last month said it would end a decades-old visa-free movement policy with Myanmar for their border citizens for reasons including national security, days after the interior minister announced fencing of the 1,643-km (1,020 mile) border with Myanmar.