The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday wrote to four North East states bordering Myanmar, asking them to be vigilant against influx of people from the neighbouring country, The Indian Express reported.

“As you are aware there is a possibility of large scale influx into Indian territory through IMB [India-Myanmar border] due to current internal situation in Myanmar,” the ministry stated in the letter dated March 10, according to The Hindu. “MHA has already issued an advisory dated February 25 to chief secretaries of Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and also Border Guarding Force along the IMB (Asssam Rifles) to stay alert and take appropriate action to prevent a possible influx into Indian territory.”

The letter also pointed out that states and Union Territories had no powers to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner and that India was not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, The Indian Express reported. However, the four states were told to make exceptions in cases “absolutely essential on humanitarian grounds”.

The letter also mentioned a set of guidelines sent to states on February 28, 2018, which had asked the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take steps for “identifying illegal migrants, their restrictions to specific locations as per provisions of law”. It further instructed “capturing their biographic and biometric particulars, cancellation of fake Indian documents and legal proceedings including initiation of deportation proceedings as per provisions of law”, according to The Hindu.

The development came amid reports which suggested that around 100 people, primarily Myanmar police officers and their families, had fled to India since the protests began. The development likely took place after the police in the country were allegedly instructed to shoot at protestors “till they are dead”.

The Mizoram government earlier said 16 people from Myanmar crossed over to India, of which 11 have claimed that they were police personnel, PTI reported. Mizoram shares a 510-km-long porous border with Myanmar.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had also said several people from Myanmar tried to enter Manipur but returned on seeing the presence of a large number of security personnel. Manipur shares a 398-km border with Myanmar, according to PTI.

The total length of the India-Myanmar border is 1,643 km, which is porous.

“The states have been spoken to and a written communication was also sent earlier addressed to chief secretaries of the concerned states in this regard,” an unidentified home ministry official told The Indian Express. “While we are seized of the situation unfolding in Myanmar, we cannot allow all and sundry to enter the country. The states have been advised to deal with the issue on case to case basis.”

On Wednesday, in a reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had said that India has “direct stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability in Myanmar”. He added that the recent developments since the military coup in the country last month were of “deep concern” to it.

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Military coup in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar followed the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy and Suu Kyi in the national elections in November, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds.

The country’s military refused to accept the government, citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. It was also announced that the coup was the result of the government’s failure to delay the November election despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.

However, Myanmar’s Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing said on February 8 that “free and fair” elections will be held after the completion of the emergency period, and the military will hand over power to the winner.