Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday said that it was his government’s duty to provide food and shelter to the Myanmar citizens seeking shelter in the state, reported PTI. Many of them have crossed over the border into northeastern India after last month’s military coup in Myanmar.

“It is our responsibility as human beings to provide food and shelter on humanitarian grounds to our human fellows [from Myanmar], who have taken refuge in our state in the wake of political turmoil following the military coup in their country,” the chief minister told a foreign news outlet and leaders of Chin Churches in the United States via video conference.

Zoramthanga, however, said that the state government has “no say” in international affairs and the matter of refugees rests with the Centre. The chief minister said that he has urged the central government to provide political asylum to Myanmar citizens.

A delegation of leaders from Mizoram have also separately met Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and others in Delhi. They have asked the government not to forcefully send those seeking refuge in India, reported The Assam Sentinel. On Sunday, Zoramthanga had held talks with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung.

On March 18, the chief minister had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that the Myanmar areas bordering Mizoram are inhabited by Chin communities “who are ethnically our Mizo brethren with whom we have been having close contacts throughout all these years even before India became independent”.

He also added that “India cannot turn a blind eye” to the humanitarian crisis.

He had also said that the Union home ministry’s advisory directing four northeastern states, including Mizoram, to check the illegal influx of people from Myanmar and to start the deportation process of illegal migrants was “not acceptable” to him.

Reports had said that around 100 people, primarily Myanmar police officers and their families, had fled to India since the protests began in the country.

Myanmar coup

On February 1, the military in Myanmar took control of the country and detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the country’s ruling National League for Democracy. This 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.

Following the coup, the residents of Myanmar launched protests in various areas of the country as the military took measures, including curfews, to control the stir. On March 14, at least 38 protestors were killed during demonstrations, according to an advocacy group. The incident marked one of the bloodiest days since the protests began.